Skip to Main Content

How to Use Student Loans for College Living Expenses

Student loan funds can be used for education-related expenses, which includes living costs like housing and food. Here’s how it works.

Author
By Devon Delfino

Written by

Devon Delfino

Writer

Devon Delfino is an independent writer specializing in personal finance. Her work has been featured in publications such as the L.A. Times, U.S. News and World Report, Mashable, The Startup, Business Insider, Forbes, MarketWatch, CNBC, and USA Today, among others.

Edited by Renee Fleck

Written by

Renee Fleck

Editor

Renee Fleck is a student loans editor with over five years of experience in digital content editing. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, Morning Brew, and Sidebar.io, among other online publications. She is fluent in Spanish and French and enjoys traveling to new places.

Updated January 31, 2024

Editorial disclosure: Our goal is to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances.

Read More

Featured

Credible takeaways

  • After paying your school’s tuition and fees, any leftover loan funds can be used for living expenses. 
  • There are potential consequences for using student loan money on expenses that aren’t education-related.
  • Whatever funds you don’t use, you can usually pay back to your lender to minimize your debt.

Student loans can be used for any education-related expenses, which include living expenses during college. So if you have any of those funds left over after paying costs such as tuition and fees, you may be able to use that money to directly pay for what you need.

How to use student loans for living expenses

Undergraduate, graduate, and professional students enrolled on at least a half-time basis are all able to use student loans for living expenses. This is because schools are required to include an estimate for living expenses in their Cost of Attendance (COA). 

After your federal or private student loans are disbursed to your school, these funds are primarily used to cover tuition and fees. Any remaining balance is then paid out to you, unless you decline it. These leftover funds can be used to pay for your living expenses.

Just be aware that there are some exclusions for how you can use those extra funds.

Advertiser Disclosure
4.84.8

Credible rating

Fixed (APR)

4.09% - 15.71%

Loan Amounts

$2,001* to $400,000

Min. Credit Score

680

Check Rates

on Credible’s website

View Details

4.94.9

Credible rating

Fixed (APR)

4.11% - 15.44%

Loan Amounts

$1,000 up to 100% of the school-certified cost of attendance

Min. Credit Score

680

Check Rates

on Credible’s website

View Details

4.44.4

Credible rating

Fixed (APR)

4.39% - 14.67%

Loan Amounts

$1,000 to $99,999 annually ($180,000 aggregate limit)

Min. Credit Score

660

Check Rates

on Credible’s website

View Details

4.84.8

Credible rating

Fixed (APR)

4.48% - 13.29%

Loan Amounts

$1,000 to $350,000 (depending on degree)

Min. Credit Score

720

Check Rates

on Credible’s website

View Details

4.34.3

Credible rating

Fixed (APR)

4.50% - 15.49%

Loan Amounts

$1,000 up to 100% of school-certified cost of attendance

Min. Credit Score

660

Check Rates

on Credible’s website

View Details

4.64.6

Credible rating

Fixed (APR)

4.56% - 8.34%

Loan Amounts

$1,001 up to 100% of school certified cost of attendance

Min. Credit Score

670

Check Rates

on Credible’s website

View Details

4.84.8

Credible rating

Fixed (APR)

5.35% - 7.95%

Loan Amounts

$1,500 up to school’s certified cost of attendance less aid

Min. Credit Score

670

Check Rates

on Credible’s website

View Details