Discussions about college affordability often revolve around helping students pay their tuition and fees. But nontuition expenses, including food, housing, and other living expenses, make up a large portion of student budgets and contribute to increased student debt. These expenses can be a barrier to student enrollment and completion. Lack of information about the true full cost of attendance, stringent requirements to qualify for income support benefits, and limited grant aid make it hard for many students to access enough resources to cover their basic needs.

This report from the Urban Institute examines the different types of expenses students face, how much grant aid covers, and the policy proposals that can make a difference.