After multiple complaints came in from students who thought they were being charged by Albany Technical College for items that didn't exist like room and board, FOX 31 reached out to the college to see how their financial aid system works.
It begins with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form, which is a student's guide to receiving any grant or aid based off of the school's budget and a student's eligibility.
"We're required by the department of education to release what we call a cost of attendance budget, what we estimate that it costs for a student to attend," said ATC director of financial aid, Kenneth Wilson.
Those estimated costs aren't actual charges from the school, but a way to let the banks know how much money a student should be eligible for if their grants don't cover the full cost.
"The estimations are used especially for students that are trying to apply for loans, they look at their school budget, their cost of attending school so that helps in determining the amount of loans that they would be eligible for," said ATC financial aid specialist Ophelia Price.
While it may be alarming to see transportation costs included in the list for a school that doesn't provide rides, officials say if they don't estimate those costs to the state, a student can't be eligible for the funds.
"Federal and state funds can only go towards educational expenses, and we have to estimate what that cost is to travel. I mean, a student from Dawson can be driving in an Altima compared to a student from Albany driving a Ford, those costs are going to be different but we have to estimate," said Wilson.
That also includes a line item for room and board, in which the college tries to project how much it would cost to live in Albany per semester.
"It gives a good picture of their expense basically outside of school. We don't have dormitories, so it does look at approximate cost for apartments in this area," said Price.
Though Albany Tech only charges for tuition and fees, once those estimations are filed with the state, the state can then determine how much a student is awarded based off of those numbers, which the college says helps the students in the long run.