What Expenses Do Student Loans Cover?

Student loans typically only cover tuition. However, you may seek loan options to help cover expenses like room and board, books and supplies, dining and even entertainment. You will likely need a mix of multiple loans in order to cover all of these expenses, which means you have to apply with many different lenders. The process can be exhaustive, but it is possible to study full time and live off loans if you are willing to take on debt as a student.

Grants and Scholarships

It is best to start by seeking grants and scholarships to help cover tuition. These forms of financing do not need to be paid back; as a result, starting here gives you the best chance of reducing the total amount of debt you need to take on in order to pay for college. There are many sources of grants, including state grants, school grants and even grants from individuals in your community. You can ask your school guidance counselor for a list of possible scholarships and grants in your area. Applying early will help your chances of getting a piece of these highly competitive options.

College Financial Aid

Your college or university will be the next source of loans to cover the cost of tuition. Seek aid programs through the financial aid office at your school of choice. You may, at this point, even look for stipends to help pay the expense of living while you attend school. In particular, students focusing in a particular industry, of a unique background or minority or promising contributions to a school group may receive financial aid. Most colleges have a book complete with full listings of aid opportunities on campus. Start here to consider where you may fit in.

Federal Loan Programs

Federal loans are often the least expensive tuition payment options. Stafford loans, Perkins loans and even PLUS loans, which are issued in the name of a student's parents, can make up the difference needed to cover the remaining cost of tuition. These loans go straight to tuition, and they will never even reach your account. You apply each semester for the sum needed to cover your tuition for classes you have enrolled in. Federal loan programs will never assist with expenses other than tuition; they will not even help cover the cost of materials and supplies.

Private Loans

Private loans will cover the remaining expenses you have while attending college. Unfortunately, this can still be a very large sum. You will need loans to pay the cost of rent or room and board, books and supplies, dining and entertainment. There are two primary ways to cover these expenses. The first is to take an installment loan, which is issued in one lump sum each year. You will pay this back with monthly debts. The second option is to take a student credit card. A credit card will be very useful in covering expenses like eating out or traveling while you are a student. There is a much more flexible payment plan on most credit cards, and you can repay the debts while you work over breaks or in the summer.


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