Being a away from home means managing your own living expenses and the debt you accumulate while studying. One option is to work part time on campus, the other option is to take out a loan for living expenses while in school.
Stafford loans can pay for living expenses after tuition is paid for. However subsidized Stafford loans are caped so they may only cover the cost of your education. It’s likely you will have to apply for both a subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loan to cover the cost of living expenses. Just apply for the maximum amount from your Stafford loan and use the remainder for living expenses. Try and find a college that is cheaper to attend than the amount you borrow and use the excess for rent, transport costs etc.
Parent PLUS loans are not subsidized by the federal government like the Perkins loan and many Stafford loans, which are both in a students name. A Parent PLUS loan can be incurred in amounts that cover the entire cost of education (including living expenses), less other financial aid.
For graduate students you should consider the Graduate PLUS Loan with a low fixed interest rate. They are not need-based like other Federal aid. They are similar to private loans but with the benefit of a fixed interate rate. These loans can be used for living expenses such as room and board, supplies and travel.
Another option is a student loan for living expenses while at school. These loans generally have lower interest rates than regular loans. However with private lenders the loan may accrue interest while your in college so you could find yourself with a lot more debt than when you started.
You usually require a good credit history to take out a private loan such as a bank loan otherwise you will need a cosigner with good credit. The lender may decide that your credit score is too low and not grant you a loan.
Plan Ahead and Save
My suggestion would be to get a part time job, perhaps on campus. Loans whether they are subsidized or not still have to be paid back and there is more interest to pay on a larger loan.
Keep a financial record of your expenses so you can better manage your money. Once you have written down all your outgoings from living expenses you can better analyse where your spending your money and budget based on your wants and must-haves. Write down the loan amount, your outgoing and incoming amounts and update this record regularly. At the end of each month you can then learn how to cut costs whether it be on groceries, car insurance, housing costs or utilities.
Avoid the temptation of spending loan money just because it’s available. Any money left over from the loan should go to paying off a loan with a high interest. This way you will save money and cut down the time it takes to pay the loan off.