The simple answer is yes, financial aid can be used to cover the costs of off-campus housing.
Financial aid is awarded by your college after you file your FAFSA®. Once your FAFSA® has been submitted to your school, you’ll be sent a financial aid offer. This can include grants, scholarships, and federal loans and is used to cover the cost of attending school.
In most cases, the total cost of attendance (COA) includes room and board, supplies (textbooks, laptops, etc.), transportation costs, and even childcare.
However, some schools will not wrap the total cost into your COA, so if there is any confusion, you should reach out to your financial aid office and have them clarify what is covered by the financial aid package.
If you are living off-campus, your financial aid can be used to cover your rent.
Depending on where you live that aid might cover all or just a portion of your rent, that’s going to be based on how much your landlord charges you vs. how much aid you receive. While your rent won’t be bundled into your financial aid package, you can use your additional funds to cover those outside expenses.
If you’re unsure how to do this, talk to your financial aid office and see what the process is to get funds to help with your living expenses.
Anticipate Budget Living
When choosing a school, not only is it important to look into classes and campus culture – it’s also important to research the safety and affordability of the area you’ll be living in. Living with roommates or searching for affordable housing is the norm for many college students. Living within your means can ensure you don’t take on too much debt.
When applying for financial aid it’s also important to apply for outside scholarships and grants in addition to filing FASFA®. If you do find yourself needing to accept student loans to fill your aid gap and help cover the cost of living, federal student loans have a much lower interest rate than private loans and better repayment terms
If private student loans are a necessity, make sure to shop around and find the lowest interest rate.