With ballooning tuition rates, many students rely on student loans to pay for college and related expenses. U.S. News data show the average tuition and fees to attend a public, in-state school is around $9,716…
With ballooning tuition rates, many students rely on student loans to pay for college and related expenses.
U.S. News data show the average tuition and fees to attend a public, in-state school is around $9,716 for the 2018-2019 school year. The average in-state sticker price is 73 percent less than the average tuition and fees to attend a private college, which is $35,676; the average out-of-state tuition and fees among public institutions in 2018-2019 is $21,629.
College comes with many expenses. Not only must students pay tuition and fees to attend classes, but they need to cover living expenses, like room and board. In addition, there are other expenses, such as textbooks, supplies and transportation.
It’s important for students to know if they’re planning to use student loans to cover expenses, how much financial aid and student loans are available, what can be borrowed each year as well as what they can cover with these loans.
Here are a few considerations that students and their families should weigh when using students loans to cover college costs.
Know that federal student loans are a part of college financial aid. The Department of Education provides more than $120 billion in federal student aid each year to students who are paying for a college or career school education.
The vast majority of these funds are received in the form of student loans. To receive federal financial aid, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly referred to as the FAFSA.
Financial aid packages awarded by colleges and universities may include grants, federal subsidized or unsubsidized direct student loans, or federal work-study. Payments are made to the school first for tuition and fees , and any funds available afterwards are refunded to students either via direct deposit or check.
Student loans can cover more than a school’s tuition and fees. But student loans received should only be used to pay for educational expenses. Qualified expenses include tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, equipment, dependent child care expenses and transportation, to name a few. The money shouldn’t be spent on dining out, taking vacations or any other unnecessary expenses, such as furnishing your dorm room.
Consider your budget each semester. Student loans are usually disbursed in two installments, once at the beginning of each semester after school has begun. For that reason, the Student Loan Ranger suggests having funds available for living expenses until the school refunds the overages. Money left over after tuition and fees, and room and board if the student is living on campus, can be budgeted to last until your next semester.
One strategy in developing a budget for the semester is to look at the refund amount and divide it by the number of months until your next financial aid disbursement. This will give you a baseline of income for each month.
In creating a monthly budget, students can use the Federal Trade Commission’s worksheet to plan their ongoing expenses, such as rent and utilities. If there’s not enough money to cover expenses, then there are other options available.
Seek out a work-study or part-time job. The Student Loan Ranger advises borrowers not to take out more loans to cover unnecessary expenses.
Having a part-time job can help cover living expenses that aren’t paid for by student loans. These earnings can be used to purchase nonessential items. All that money made at a part-time job could be used to furnish a dorm room, for instance. Students can also use this money to take spring break trips.
If basic living costs, such as housing and food, aren’t covered by students’ federal financial aid packages, then the Student Loan Ranger recommends exploring private student loan options.
Plan financially for college as soon as possible. Whether parents will be contributing toward postsecondary education or not, college-bound students can get a head start financially by saving their allowance or income from a part-time job.
If students are already in college and struggling to cover their basic needs, they should consider a part-time job or talk to a student loan specialist at their school.
While the Student Loan Ranger understands course loads may seem too overwhelming to take on part-time jobs, students will thank themselves down the road when they have lower student loan bills.