Can Student Loans Be Used for Living Expenses?
Q: Will my financial aid pay for my living expenses? What about off-campus housing? Can student loans cover all my living expenses?
A: The answer is yes, but you need to be careful how much you borrow and what types of student loans you borrow. Be sure that you maximize all of your federal aid and federal student loans first.
Financial aid and student loans can cover the cost of books, housing, food, transportation, and even entertainment. Any education related expense can be covered by financial aid as long as your school will certify the total amount you are requesting.
But because so much financial aid is available, student need to be extra careful not to borrow more financial aid than what is needed.
Remember that most financial aid comes in the form of student loans that must be repaid.
The amount of financial aid that you can receive is based on your total Cost of Attendance (or COA). The COA includes tuition and fees; on campus room and board (or a housing and food allowance for off-campus students); and allowances for books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and, if applicable, dependent care.
The COA also includes miscellaneous and personal expenses, including an allowance for the rental or purchase of a personal computer. Costs related to a disability are also covered.
The COA includes reasonable costs for eligible study-abroad programs as well. For students attending less than half-time, the COA includes tuition and fees and an allowance for books, supplies, transportation and dependent care expenses; and can also include room and board for up to three semesters or the equivalent at the institution.
But no more than two of those semesters, or the equivalent, may be consecutive. Talk to the financial aid administrator at the school you are planning to attend if you have any unusual expenses that might affect your cost of attendance.
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