Yes! You can use your student loan to pay certain living expenses. Just keep in mind the keyword “essential” when determining which expenses can be paid for with the college educational loan you secured for yourself or a loved one.
In addition to direct payments to your chosen Peach State Institute of Higher Learning, such essential expenditures include your meals, transportation, lodging, and even the renters insurance on your apartment or dorm room. We’ll break it down in greater detail, but let’s start with the basics.
What Is a Student Loan?
It’s a federally backed loan made available to qualified students so they can afford to attend college or an accredited trade school. These loans cover the costs directly associated with the educational program, such as tuition and fees, dorm rental, and the cost of textbooks, and other materials needed for the classes you take.
Do Student Loans Cover Living Expenses?
Living expenses are covered, as long as they are necessary. So, that Friday night at the college hangout? Not covered! Fuel for the car? Yep, covered!
There’s that word again: essential. If you go away to a Georgia college or a trade school, you must live somewhere. Whether that’s in a university dorm room or an off-campus apartment, your student loan will help pay for it.
It will also cover transportation costs such as gasoline and school parking, bus fees, and your vehicle’s maintenance and repair bills.
Your meals are covered, too. And even childcare costs while you’re at school, studying, or working. Think of any cost that’s unavoidable to your college experience and it might well be covered by your educational loans.
So What Expenses Are Not Essential?
Sometimes borrowers can go too far with a covered expense, to the point where it’s no longer essential or legitimately paid by your student loan. For example, food through your school’s meal plans is covered, as well as grocery store visits and reasonably priced restaurant meals if you live off campus. However, nightly dates at the city’s fanciest eatery are not covered. Neither is what you’d pay for bar or nightclub outings with your school friends or roommates.
Your transportation costs are similarly controlled. While you can use your loan in various ways to get to and from school or your after-school job, this does not include buying a new car or motorcycle. You might also get in trouble if you take an expensive cab ride daily when you could easily take a local bus or even walk to and from your classes.
Renters Insurance Is Considered a Valid Expense
Renters insurance helps cover loss of personal property and physical damage. Your apartment is burglarized. Or your dorm room suffers smoke damage from a fire in another unit. In both scenarios, your cell phone and laptop are lost or severely damaged. What now?
How can you accept, complete, and turn in assignments, or contact your instructors without your pricey electronics devices? What if it takes you weeks or even months to earn the money to replace the technology you lost?
There’s very little wait for a cash settlement if you have renters insurance.
Here’s another scenario to consider: you throw a party at your place and someone gets injured. Your renters insurance can cover your guest’s medical bills and even your attorney costs, if there’s a lawsuit for damages.
Despite all of this critical financial protection, renters insurance in Georgia only costs, on average, about $16 a month. Here’s some more good news. Even that small amount can be legitimately paid out of your college loan.
So don’t take even the smallest risk of sidetracking your education and your future by a fire, burglary, burst water pipe, or other unplanned and potentially very expensive calamity. Invest in renters insurance on an apartment or dorm room even before moving day.
Will My Student Loan Be Tracked or Audited?
Probably not. That’s both the good and the potentially bad news. The good news is obvious: you won’t have the government constantly looking over your shoulder and challenging every expenditure, and you’re unlikely to be penalized for an honest mistake or two.
The bad news is that this lack of oversight can result in spending abuse that only hurts the borrower. Consider that there’s a lifetime limit on the amount that can be borrowed through such federal-backed funding. If you’ve maxed out your borrowing capabilities by, let’s say, year two of a four-year program, you might need to leave school without earning your degree. Now your future’s at risk.
Also, keep in mind that you’re not getting “free” money. Since it’s relatively easy to secure a student loan, and the interest rates are low, some borrowers might spend freely now without really thinking of tomorrow. But you’ll be expected to pay back the amount you borrow, with interest, once you leave school. The more you borrow, the longer you’ll be in debt and the more you’ll have to pay when the loan comes due.
Therefore, avoid borrowing more than necessary to get you or your loved one through the college or trade school years. By maintaining strong self-discipline when it comes to spending your loan money, your future will be brighter. You’ll have your diploma or certification for good jobs, and fewer outstanding debts that might put a serious drag on your finances.