The cost of tuition is rising, but it’s not the only college cost you’ll need to worry about as a student. Room and board is another major cost regardless of whether you’re living on or off campus. Costs for a dorm room and meal plan can be as much as $7,500 to $9,000 per year or more depending on the school and options chosen (such as weekday-only meal plans, or a room with air conditioning or private bathroom).
Living off campus can sometimes be cheaper with roommates but can still result in costs for utilities or commuting to class. There are a few ways to help defray room and board costs.
Ask for More Financial Aid
When going through the financial aid process, make sure your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is filled out correctly and completely. This can help make sure you maximize your financial aid award. You can also work directly with your school’s financial aid department to get the best award possible.
Apply for Housing Assistance Grants and Scholarships
If you’d rather avoid graduating from college with student loan debt, you can also check out room and board scholarships and grants. Many of them can be used for any educational expenses, which include room and board. Some room and board scholarships and grants are even designed specifically to cover the costs of living while attending school and are offered to certain demographics or students in special situations (such as single parents putting themselves through school).
You can also look at Pell Grants, which are federal awards given for financial need and can be used to cover housing costs. In order to qualify, you merely need to be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen, enrolled in a degree program, and not already defaulted on any federal student loans.
Take Out Student Loans
If you’ve already covered tuition but need extra money for room and board, consider taking out a federal student loan. They’re usually offered as part of your financial aid package and you can often take out extra for room and board. The money is disbursed directly to the school to cover those costs, so you won’t need to worry about it.
If you’re planning to live off campus, you can also look into private student loans through a bank or lender. You’ll need good credit to be approved or have a cosigner. Once approved, any money left over after paying the school goes to you directly.
Room and board can seem like an overwhelming cost on an already exorbitant education, but with some research and effort, you can find the money to handle those expenses.