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Acquiring Financial Aid for Living Expenses in College

written by: KAFrancis•edited by: Laurie Patsalides•updated: 7/19/2010

College is expensive. Tuition alone can be more than most students can afford, and if a student has expenses on top of that, such as rent and a car, a student can find himself in financial distress. But there is an answer: acquiring financial aid for living expenses in college is easier than ever.

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    How to Acquire Money to Live On

    college kids 1 Going to college is an expensive undertaking. Most people focus on getting the money for tuition, room and board and books. But there are other expenses involved with going to college that many people do not think about until they realize they don't have the money for them. For example, a college student who wants to have even the slightest of social life will need money for going out to eat with friends, clothes, things to decorate their dorm room or college apartment, gas for the car or bus fare. Not to mention rent and utilities.

    Most students use financial aid in the form of grants and student loans to pay for tuition and room and board, but what about the other expenses listed above? You can acquire financial aid for living expenses while going to college that will pay for these things, referred to as living expenses. You just have to know where to look to find the funding. Keep in mind this extra financial aid will often be in the form of a student or personal loan and will add to your total student loan liability when you finish college, so only take out what you really need.

    A good place to start acquiring financial aid for living expenses in college is with a Parent PLUS loan. This loan is taken out by parents of undergraduates in addition to any other loans or grants the student might have. Unlike traditional financial aid, the PLUS loan can be used for living expenses such as rent, utilities, food and vehicle expenses. It is important to remember that this loan is not need based; therefore, a decent credit score is required to qualify.

    A second option is a Stafford Loan. These loans are typically included in the financial aid award package you receive when you apply for financial aid. There are two types of Stafford loans: subsidized and unsubsidized. Subsidized loan are based on financial need. Unsubsidized loans do not require proof of financial needs, but allow a borrower to borrow over the amount of tuition and school costs for things such as living expenses. Most of the time, the loan is divided into part subsidized and part unsubsidized. The amount a student can borrow per school year ranges from $5,500 for first year students up to $7,500 for third year students and higher. The key to getting the maximum amount you need to cover living expenses is to first prove a financial need, which can be done with the initial financial aid application, and then talking to the financial aid office of your school and letting them know you need financial aid for living expenses. Most schools have the ability to set how much financial aid a student needs to attend the school, so letting your financial aid advisor know you have specific living expenses can prompt the counselor to allow a larger award disbursement.

    There is no reason that you have to be a broke college student. You can go to school and not worry about paying rent and for food with a loan for living expenses. Just remember - you will have to pay it back!

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