Money for College Tuition and More: 7 Ways to Spend

Your check has arrived – you have money for college tuition. But you already paid tuition…what now? Did you know you can spend it in other ways?

For instance, if you get a Pell grant. How do you spend it? If you haven't paid tuition yet, you'll need to pay it. And if you have some left over, it goes for school expenses. What qualifies as a school expense?

Let me show you 7.

Pay Tuition First

The money for college you have should always go for tuition first. After all, it is money to go to school, right? And if you pay tuition, you can go to school. But once you pay tuition, you have 7 other approved ways to spend money for school. I did some research and found that most schools have some kind of form that will give you the basics of what you can use student aid money for. University of California at Merced had a particularly good outline. Here’s the breakdown.

1. The Crib

Of course you can pay for your place to live, the pad, the love shack, your hideaway. Reasonable housing expenses always qualify, because everyone needs a roof overhead. Expenses in this category will also include utilities, which I take to include gas, electric, water, internet (now a necessity), phone, and cable or satellite.

The last two may require some justification if out of line. Especially if you text 16,000 messages a month and don’t have an all inclusive texting plan – so get one. Oh, and I’d go DSL if you haven’t already. Remember, you are spending financial aid - money for college tuition or school expenses. Texting can fit in as part of an inclusive plan.

By the way, you don’t have to rent. You can buy and make mortgage payments, especially if you are over 25 and in the nontraditional category or if you own and rent to roommates. Could be a good way to build equity for the future

2. Specs, the Grill, and Aches and Pains

Right! Doctor bills: medical, dental, optical and whatever else you may need. And of course, health insurance falls in this category. No one can fault you paying for doctor visits and pharmacy needs. You’ve got to keep yourself healthy or you won’t be able to get to class! Money for college tuition can go for health care, too.

3. School Stuff

If you go to school, you need stuff. Books, primarily, but also paper, pens, ink cartridges, binders, folders, a backpack or two, and all the lot. No need to go overboard, but you’ll need to spend some money for college after tuition on school supplies.

4. The Family and The Sitter

You’ve got kids? Covered. Need to support your wife or husband? Covered. Other dependents? Covered. If someone depends on you to support them, then your costs to provide support are part of your budget and you can spend your money for college to take care of them, and stay in school.

5. Disability

When you have a disability, you may have additional expenses. You can spend financial aid/money for college tuition on this. After all, you have to take care of yourself.

6. Technology

Going to school requires technology. When you hit the books, sometimes they aren’t actual books, but bits and bytes! During college, you can typically borrow money once to buy a computer. Lots of people do this as freshmen – which is fine. But if you can wait, do it. You may never have such a good discount and such a good interest rate on a computer as when you are a student and using money for college that didn’t go for tuition.

If you can wait till your last year, you will have a great computer to take out of school with you. Either way, you need a computer, be sure to get one that does the job.

(By the way, did you know an MP3 player can hold lectures, and other files? Could be handy on campus.)

7. Wheels

You have to get to school. Some of your money for college tuition can go towards transportation. This isn’t the time to buy an Escalade with a student car loan but you can spend reasonable money on transportation for college. If you can do without, go for it. If not, get something reliable and cheap. Since you paid tuition, you’ll need to go to class, and for many, that means commuting.

Take a look at some pointers I have written up about a car loan for college students that can help you keep your debts low and get more for your money. Also, take a look at 5 ways to improve your cash flow when you are paying for a car loan and other loans.

Money For College Tuition and For...

The above cover the basics that you may need to get a student loan to cover. Or you can use excess tuition money for college to buy. The list does leave out one big category: lottery tickets.

Just kidding. I mean day to day living expenses. You know, the morning donut, the pizza, perhaps a new pair of jeans. These expenses also fall in an approved category, just don’t go crazy. If you find you need more money for college later in the year, but you’ve spent $400 per week on food just for you, you may have a tough sell to get a loan or whatever.

Enjoy school, and try to keep expenses down. But know that if you have money for college tuition from financial aid sources, you can still usually use if for basic school expenses.

If you don’t have access to programs like these, don’t give up. You can still find college education money. If you use loans carefully, they can get you through. And you might qualify for student loan forgiveness , too.

Huge Resource List You might also look through my getting money for college page which has a link to a great list of cool sites and articles to help you find more money for college tuition and save in a ton of ways. Well, 99 really, since you are already on #60 of the list ;o)

Happy hunting!

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