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There are more costs on top of tuition to consider when it comes to paying for college, including housing — which can sometimes cost more than tuition.
Thankfully, financial aid does cover housing. And you have a few other options to help with the costs, too.
Here’s what you need to know about paying for housing with financial aid:
- Financial aid can cover up to the cost of attendance
- Average cost of housing on campus
- You could save money by living off campus
- Use private student loans to fill the gaps
Financial aid can cover up to the cost of attendance
Financial aid can be used to cover your school’s cost of attendance, which could include both on-campus and off-campus housing. However, there are limits to how much financial aid you can get. You also might not be awarded enough to cover the full cost of attendance.
To apply for financial aid, you’ll need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA is used to determine your eligibility for financial aid, as well as to calculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) — which is how much your family is expected to contribute to your education.
After you submit the FAFSA, your school will send you a financial aid award letter. This letter will detail the financial aid you qualify for, such as:
If you’re taking out student loans, find out how much you’ll owe over the life of your federal or private student loans using our student loan calculator below.
Enter your loan information to calculate how much you could pay
With a $ loan, you will pay $ monthly and a total of $ in interest over the life of your loan. You will pay a total of $ over the life of the loan, assuming you're making full payments while in school.
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Learn More: How to Qualify for Financial Aid
Average cost of housing on campus
The cost of college and of living on campus varies widely depending on your school and your area. For a public four-year university, the average cost of room and board is $11,510. For a private university, the average rises to $12,990.
Every school publishes its own cost of attendance estimating how it will likely cost you to attend their school. This generally includes:
- Tuition and fees
- Room and board
- School supplies, such as college textbooks
Check Out: When to Apply for Student Loans
Save money by living off campus
You also have the option of living off campus, which could be less expensive than on-campus housing depending on the apartment you choose as well as geographical location.
In this case, your school will use your financial aid to first cover your tuition and fees before releasing any leftover funds to you. You can then use this money to pay your off-campus rent.
However, if you’re considering on-campus vs. off-campus housing, keep in mind that living off campus comes with its own drawbacks. These include:
- Finding the apartment you want
- Potentially dealing with roommates (or paying more rent if you don’t want roommates)
- Keeping track of bills
- Needing transportation to school
- Possibly missing on-campus social activities
Learn More: Federal vs. Private Student Loans
Use private student loans to fill the gaps
If you’ve exhausted your financial aid and federal student loan options, private student loans could help fill any gaps. You might be able to borrow more in private student loans than in federal student loans, typically up to the cost of attendance.
But remember to borrow only what you need to keep your future costs low — especially since these loans aren’t eligible for federal repayment assistance like loan forgiveness.
If you decide to take out private student loans, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you.
Credible makes this easy — you can compare your prequalified rates from our partner lenders in the table below in two minutes.
|Lender||Fixed rates from (APR)||Variable rates from (APR)||Loan amounts|
|3.61%+||2.14%+||$1,000 to $200,000|
|4.24%+1||1.68%+1||$1,000 to $350,000
(depending on degree)
|3.34%+2,3||1.04%+2,3||$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance|
|4.09%+7||1.99%+7||$1,000 to $200,000|
|3.83%+8||1.61%+8||$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance|
|3.75%+||N/A||$1,500 or $2,000 up to school’s certified cost of attendance
(depending on school type and minus other aid received)
|4.25% - 12.59%9||1.13% - 11.23%9||Up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance|
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Lowest APRs reflect autopay, loyalty, and interest-only repayment discounts where available | 1Citizens Disclosures | 2,3College Ave Disclosures | 7EDvestinU Disclosures | 8INvestEd Disclosures | 9Sallie Mae Disclosures