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Cost of attendance

Find out how your cost of attendance and movements in the exchange rate can affect the amount of money you can borrow.

The cost of attendance (COA) is an estimate of your education expenses for your enrolment period (12-month maximum). The Victoria University of Wellington COA components are the same for all US federal programmes, as specified under US law. The COA will specify the total amount you may borrow through the Direct Loan programme minus any other aid you may be receiving for that award period.

The COA is the expected average cost that a student may incur to complete their programme of study at the University. Each component of the COA is reviewed annually in October after the University’s tuition fees are set.

In addition to the normal New Zealand visa requirements, there are exceptions to the normal COA allowances for:

  • students studying less than half time
  • correspondence (online) study
  • incarcerated students
  • professional judgement cases.

The amounts are for new international students commencing in Trimester 1, enrolled for trimesters 1 and 2. The amounts below may differ for students enrolled in Trimester 2 only, Trimester 3 only, or a 12-month research-based programme.

Your allowable segments included in your COA are defined as follows:

Expense Cost (NZ$)
2020 tuition and levies Tuition fees are dependent on your programme of study. All students enrolled at Victoria University of Wellington are required to pay the Student Services Levy.
2020 estimated living allowance $27,000–$32,000* (includes room/board and personal expenses)
2020 travel and transportation $2,200–3,800*
2020 medical and travel insurance based on 12-month cover $620
Estimated books and supplies $1,250

*Estimated costs are dependant on your accommodation.

Several factors impact on the decision as to whether to award aid and how much can be awarded. These factors include total family income and earnings, assets, number in the household, and number attending college at once. This information is gathered from you when you complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Government then calculates an Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

To determine your need, the assessment subtracts the EFC and Estimated Financial Assistance (EFA) and any scholarships, grants, loans, and allowances you receive from the COA.

If you believe that you are eligible to receive additional amounts, complete the cost of attendance appeal for additional educational expenses form or the appeal for expenses for care form, then contact the financial aid coordinator at financial-aid@vuw.ac.nz.

Exchange rate conversion policy

It is important to read and understand this policy before accepting US financial aid and committing to study at Victoria University of Wellington.

Use XE.Com currency converter to find out the exchange rate from New Zealand dollars (NZ$) to US dollars (US$).

Victoria University of Wellington’s exchange rate policy

Your cost of attendance (COA) for US financial aid purposes is calculated in NZ$ and then converted to US$ to create the US$ COA. This calculation is made at the time of the financial aid eligibility assessment.

Victoria University of Wellington has a policy not to recalculate the COA after this point based on exchange rate movements, which may result in a positive or negative gain by the time the money is received by the University.

An exchange rate conversion occurs at two separate stages:

Stage 1: When your eligibility is assessed, COA is created, and award letter is issued.

When your US financial aid application is assessed, the COA is calculated based on the exchange rate from previous half-yearly average exchange rate. For example, for students who submit their application between 1 July 2020 and 2 March 2021 for study in 2021, the exchange rate used is the average between 1 January and 30 June 2020. For students who apply for US financial aid between 2 March and 30 June 2021, the exchange rate will be the average rate between 1 July and 31 December 2020.

Stage 2: When loan funds are received by the University.

When the loan funds have been received, the University must convert the US$ to NZ$. The exchange rate used is the rate on the day we received the payment from the United States Reserve Bank.

As the two exchange rate conversions occur at different points during the year, each conversion will result in an exchange rate risk due to any movement in the US$/NZ$ exchange rate.

The University is unable to set the same exchange rate for both conversions (NZ$ to US$ and then US$ to NZ$), so it is the student or parent borrower’s responsibility to understand and accept this risk as part of studying at a foreign university and borrowing US federal or private loans.

Exchange rate movement example

Calculation of COA upon application based on previous half-year’s average exchange rate: NZ$1 = US$0.7734 (NZ$35,000 converts to US$27,069).

The US$ amount is the maximum amount you may borrow as US loans and all other education-related aid (e.g., scholarships).

Based on this example, a student is approved for the following loan amounts:

  • Direct Subsidised US$8,500
  • Direct Unsubsidised US$12,000
  • GradPLUS US$2,950

The loan amounts received after the recommended disbursement date are for the total amount of US$27,069.

Scenario one

This amount is converted by the bank to NZ$ on the same day’s exchange rate NZ$1 = US$0.75 as it is received. The exchange rate has moved since the initial cost of attendance was created, so US$27,069 now converts to NZ$36,092. In accordance with the exchange rate when the loan funds were deposited, the New Zealand total is NZ$1,092 more than the initial COA.

Scenario two

Alternatively, the loan amounts could have been converted to NZ$ on that day’s exchange rate of NZ$1 = US$0.80, for example. Again, the exchange rate has moved since the initial cost of attendance was created, so US$27,069 now converts to NZ$33,836. In accordance with the exchange rate when the loan funds were deposited, the New Zealand total is NZ$1,164 less than the initial COA.