If you have decided that you will use student loans to fund your college degree, then you may be wondering whether or not you can use those same student loans to fund your living expenses while you are attending classes. Some students choose to use their student loans to pay for their living expenses while others do not and there are pros and cons to both decisions. Below, we will explore whether or not you can take out these funds and what you can use them for.

Student Loans and Living Expenses

To get to the bottom of the pressing question: Can I take out student loans to fund my living expenses while in college? Yes. In fact, you can use your federal student loans however you want as long as there are funds left over after your schooling has been paid.

The government has allowed students to use a portion of their student loans to take care of some of the necessities they have in life such as rent, groceries, and similar items. The idea behind it is if you spend less time working to afford those items, then you will spend more time studying.

Now, the trick here is that you do NOT want to go crazy with the money that is available for you to borrow because it DOES have to be paid back. Often times, students will withdraw the entire amount and completely live off it, which leads to massive amounts of debt when the student graduates.

Let’s think about it for a moment. If you were to be offered $12,000 per year to go to school and you take out the max, which is $12,000, for four years, you would be $48,000 in debt when you graduate.

While you may be able to use the money for living expenses, it is important to understand what is meant by living expenses. For instance, going out to the bar and purchasing all of your friends a drink or two is not considered a living expense. When you take out your student loan, you sign off that you will only use the items for college-related expenses.

It is up to your school to determine what is considered living expenses. Many schools include room and board, which would include your housing and food. Other schools will go as far as to include gas to go to and from your abode and even a personal computer or child care.

Fortunately, the government does not breathe down your back and monitor what you eat or where you live, but you should be modest and not spend all of your money on steak dinners in a luxury suite apartment. If you run out of living expenses, the government will not provide you with additional student loans to cover how much you are short, so keep this in mind.

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Pros and Cons of Using Student Loans to Pay Living Expenses

As with anything, there are some pros and cons to using your student loans to pay your living expenses.


  • Allows you to focus on studying and not on a job
  • Provides you with the things you need throughout the semester
  • Helps keep your bills paid on time


  • Interest will accrue on standard purchases
  • Can spend more than you have quickly
  • You will not receive more money if you run out
  • May provide you with the opportunity to be careless with your money

While there are both pros and cons, you do want to be careful if you choose to pay for your living expenses with your student loans. The option is there for you to use. In fact, many students will take out the extra money to help pay for child care while they are in school or help pay their bills, so they do not have to worry about finding a job.

If you do decide that you want to use your student loans to pay for your living expenses, you should sit down and determine how much money you actually need and then only borrow what is needed. Student debt is no joke; it exceeds $1.4 trillion in total, surpassing consumer credit debt. You should decide whether the cons of taking on more student debt outweighs the benefits and convenience.

For example, if you are offered $12,000 in federal student loans and your college-related expenses are $3,000 while your living expenses come out to $6,000, then you would only want to borrow $9,000 of the $12,000. The more money you borrow, the more you will end up paying in the end. Additionally, you should try to take advantage of federal options before considering private student loans which often come with higher interest rates.

No matter what decision you make, always be cautious with how much money you borrow because in the end, it is you that has to pay it back once you graduate from college.

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