Tech examining its cost of attendance

Georgia Tech is examining its cost-of-attendance figures, the end result of which could have implications on the recruiting efforts of the school’s football, basketball and other teams.

Cost of attendance has become a hot topic in college athletics since the power five conferences passed NCAA legislation in January that granted Division I members the authority to add stipends that cover personal expenses to the value of a scholarship. The Tech athletic department will have no influence over the school’s study of its cost-of-living estimate, which is at the low end among power-conference schools.

“Folks are certainly aware that there is now an athletics application for that,” athletic director Mike Bobinski said. “That’s all known information. But it’s not a decision point or an evaluation factor. The number needs to have its integrity in and of itself.”

Cost of attendance is set by each school according to federal guidelines, but totals vary greatly. Some schools seek to minimize non-academic costs, such as personal expenses or transportation, to better market themselves to prospective students or to hold down the costs of scholarships that cover those expenses. In a report by the Chronicle of Higher Education in April, Tech’s number was $1,720, fourth lowest among all power conference schools. At the top were two schools that Tech sometimes competes with on the field and in recruiting – Tennessee ($5,666), Auburn ($5,586).

Tech’s personal-expenses estimate for the coming school year is $2,000. With athletic departments now able to give scholarship athletes stipends in those amounts, the difference in $5,600 in cash and $2,000 is not insignificant in the cutthroat world of recruiting.

The school’s decision to look into its calculations was spurred by the commotion caused by the rule change and its impact on recruiting, though the process is not being done on behalf of the athletic department.

As an example of the variances across schools, Tech does not include travel expenses in its cost of attendance calculations. By comparison, Tennessee estimates travel costs of $1,664 per student.

“I think (school president G.P. “Bud” Peterson’s) position on it was, Hey, because the issue has arisen and the topic of cost of attendance has become (broadly discussed), it probably makes sense for us to have the right people on campus, the people that deal with it on a regular basis, take a look at it and make sure we’re comfortable with what we’ve got,” Bobinski said.

Bobinski said that campus offices such as admissions and financial aid will be involved in the decision. His understanding was that it would be completed in the fall, with any changes implemented for the 2016-17 school year.

“We’re not in the mix on that at all, nor should we be,” Bobinski said.

Bobinski said he had no expectations “other than I’m certain it will be thorough and comprehensive and an appropriate outcome will be the result, whatever that is.”

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