What Can You Buy With Student Loans
Student loans are designed to help you get through school, so the government doesn't allow you to use the money for just anything. Some eligible expenses include tuition, room and board, textbooks and computers.
what can you buy with student loans
When you take out federal student loans, the government expects you to use the proceeds on certain types of expenses. Tuition, fees, supplies and textbooks are among the expenses approved by the federal government, while things like vacations, clothing and some other personal expenses are prohibited.
The Office of Federal Student Aid states that college students must use federal student loans only for approved expenses. In fact, when you sign the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you certify that you'll only use the money for educational purposes.
Federal student loans are meant to cover educational expenses, which means you're not supposed to use the money for other personal expenses, such as travel, clothing, video games, business expenses, a down payment on a home or expensive meals and drinks.
There are some caveats within some of the approved categories as well. For example, if you already own a car, you can use student loan money to pay for gas and any other expenses required to operate and maintain the vehicle. But you can't use the money you've borrowed to purchase a vehicle.
You may be tempted to use your federal student loans for unapproved expenses because it's difficult for the government to determine how you used the money. But because you signed an agreement saying that you only used the money to pay for your education, you risk the possibility that the Department of Education cancels the loan agreement and demands immediate repayment.
Private student loan terms are dictated by individual lenders, so there may be some differences between institutions. For the most part, though, private lenders typically follow the Department of Education's lead on approved expenses.
Federal student loans aren't designed for noneducational expenses, but that doesn't mean you have to go without. Here are some ways you can cover your other expenses that aren't on the approved list:
A student credit card can be a great way to start building your credit history while you're still in school as long as you're able to use it responsibly and pay on time and in full every month. Also, while personal loans can be used for just about anything, they can also be costly, especially if you haven't had the chance to build your credit history yet.
When your loan funds are disbursed, they go to your school first to pay tuition, fees, and room and board. Any additional funds will be provided to you as a student loan refund to cover other education-related expenses.
While you won't have to provide your lenders with receipts to show how you spent the money, you likely promised to use the loan funds to pay for education-related expenses when you agreed to the loan terms. Remember that you'll eventually have to pay back your loans-with interest-so be judicious about how you spend your money.
Generally your largest education-related expense, tuition and fees cover the basic costs of enrollment at your school. Tuition is the cost for your classes, while fees are the costs directly associated with attendance, such as activity fees (like to use recreational facilities), library fees, parking permits, and technology fees.
Whether you live in a dorm or an off-campus apartment, you can use your student loans to pay for housing and related costs such as utilities. Living expenses can also vary greatly depending on where you live and whether you attend an urban school (where housing tends to be more expensive) or a rural one, as well as whether you go to a public four-year college or a private four-year school. The College Board reports that the average price of on-campus housing ranges from about $12,310 to $14,030.
It can be expensive getting to and from school, but student loans can help you cover the costs. You can use your student loan proceeds to pay for a parking pass, gas expenses, public transit costs, or flights to and from school. To help you save money, consider not keeping a car on campus, carpooling, and using a bike or other alternate forms of transportation.
Student loans can cover your meal plan and other food expenses during college. There are often several types of meal plans offered from commuter meal plans to those for students living on campus full-time. Be sure to look at the options closely and be realistic about what will work best for your eating habits.
Housing costs like rent and electricity are essential. But no matter how badly you want to deck the walls with posters and warm up the room with an area rug, these purchases are not necessities. Instead, you can save money and hone your DIY skills by finding creative (and inexpensive) ways to inject some character into your room.
Just because you need to get to and from campus doesn't mean you need fancy new wheels to do it. Stick with your current vehicle or look into mass transit and other alternative transportation options to keep costs down. If you absolutely must buy a car while in college, make a financially prudent choice and find a used car in good condition.
Navigating the financial aid process can seem daunting whether it's your first time in college or you are a returning student. Use these step-by-step instructions to help guide you through the process.
Student loans are designed to help pay for tuition and fees but there are other ways you can use them to pay for college. Both federal student loans and private student loans can be used to cover the cost of attendance at your chosen school. After taking out tuition and fees (plus room and board if you live on-campus), your college can forward excess student loan funds to you, which you can use to pay living expenses.
The Office of Federal Student Aid mandates that student loans must be used to pay for education expenses. But there's some flexibility in how you can use federal student loans, beyond tuition and fees.
Using excess student loans as savings can be beneficial if you don't have an emergency fund in place. But since this is borrowed money, you may be better off using the money for education and finding other ways to grow your savings.
Both federal student loans and private student loans must be repaid with interest. The negative, said Gerstman, is that it can increase the cost of repayment once you graduate since you'll have more money to pay back. It could also take you longer to pay your loans off.
Your budget should spell out everything you spend money on each month. Add up any income you have from working, a side hustle or financial support from your parents and figure out how far that goes toward covering expenses. If there's a shortfall, then you can look to student loans to cover the gap.
It's also important to avoid spending temptations. For example, using student loans to pay for dinner out or a vacation with friends may be fun, but if you're strapped for cash it could make more sense to reserve spending for needs versus wants.
If you'd like to avoid having extra student loans altogether, the simplest way to do that is to calculate exactly what you need to pay for school and only borrow that amount. And remember, Gerstman said, you can always return excess student loans to the lender so you have less to pay back.
Remember to only include the minimum required payment you need to make each month. If you have $20,000 in student loan debt but you only have a minimum required payment of $100 a month, only include $100 in your DTI ratio calculation.
Add all your monthly recurring expenses, then divide the number you get by your total pre-tax monthly income. Is someone else applying for your mortgage loan with you? If so, include their income in your calculation as well. Multiply the number you get by 100 to get your DTI ratio as a percentage.
Take a look at how your current student loan debt compares to your overall income. Though the specific DTI ratio you need for a loan depends on your loan type, most lenders like to see DTI ratios of 50% or lower. You may need to work on reducing your debt before you buy a home if your DTI ratio is higher than 50%.
So, should you pay off your student loans before you buy a home? First, take a look at your DTI ratio. Lenders care less about the dollar amount of debt that you have and more about how that debt compares to your total income. You can still buy a home with student debt if you have a solid, reliable income and a handle on your payments. However, unreliable income or payments may make up a large amount of your total monthly budget, and you might have trouble finding a loan. Focus on paying down your loans before you buy a home if your DTI is more than 50%.
A subprime student loan is a type of student loan that has an interest rate higher than the prime rate, or the interest rate that commercial banks charge most creditworthy customers. As such, subprime students loan borrowers often have poor credit scores."}},"@type": "Question","name": "Are student loans asset-backed securities?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "Student loans are not asset-backed securities. Student loan asset-back securities, or SLABS, are a type of security based on packages of outstanding student loans.","@type": "Question","name": "How do I know if my student loan is subprime?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "In addition to subprime loans having interest rates that are higher than the prime rate, a common indicator that a borrower may have subprime loans is if they received their loan(s) while having a FICO Score of 669 or lower."]}]}] Investing Stocks Bonds Fixed Income Mutual Funds ETFs Options 401(k) Roth IRA Fundamental Analysis Technical Analysis Markets View All Simulator Login / Portfolio Trade Research My Games Leaderboard Economy Government Policy Monetary Policy Fiscal Policy View All Personal Finance Financial Literacy Retirement Budgeting Saving Taxes Home Ownership View All News Markets Companies Earnings Economy Crypto Personal Finance Government View All Reviews Best Online Brokers Best Life Insurance Companies Best CD Rates Best Savings Accounts Best Personal Loans Best Credit Repair Companies Best Mortgage Rates Best Auto Loan Rates Best Credit Cards View All Academy Investing for Beginners Trading for Beginners Become a Day Trader Technical Analysis All Investing Courses All Trading Courses View All TradeSearchSearchPlease fill out this field.SearchSearchPlease fill out this field.InvestingInvesting Stocks Bonds Fixed Income Mutual Funds ETFs Options 401(k) Roth IRA Fundamental Analysis Technical Analysis Markets View All SimulatorSimulator Login / Portfolio Trade Research My Games Leaderboard EconomyEconomy Government Policy Monetary Policy Fiscal Policy View All Personal FinancePersonal Finance Financial Literacy Retirement Budgeting Saving Taxes Home Ownership View All NewsNews Markets Companies Earnings Economy Crypto Personal Finance Government View All ReviewsReviews Best Online Brokers Best Life Insurance Companies Best CD Rates Best Savings Accounts Best Personal Loans Best Credit Repair Companies Best Mortgage Rates Best Auto Loan Rates Best Credit Cards View All AcademyAcademy Investing for Beginners Trading for Beginners Become a Day Trader Technical Analysis All Investing Courses All Trading Courses View All Financial Terms Newsletter About Us Follow Us Facebook Instagram LinkedIn TikTok Twitter YouTube Table of ContentsExpandTable of ContentsStudent Loan SecuritizationStudent Loan Borrowing MetricsPrivate LoansPeer-to-Peer (P2P) LendingPublic LoansEnticing to InvestorsWhat is a subprime student loan?Are student loans asset-backed securities?How do I know if my student loan is subprime?The Bottom LineLoansStudent LoansStudent Loan Asset-Backed Securities: Safe or Subprime?ByJack Du Full BioJack Du has 3+ years of experience working with Brown Investment Group and 2+ years as an investment analyst.Learn about our editorial policiesUpdated January 05, 2023Reviewed by 041b061a72