What Can a Student Loan Pay For?

What can a student loan pay for? What can you spend with the money?

Flickr user Elvert Barnes

Many college students end up taking out student loans. We know that student loans are used to pay for college, obviously, but “pay for college” is a pretty broad description. So what can a student loan pay for? Let’s narrow it down a bit:

Tuition & College Fees

This is often what people first think of when it comes to student loans. Tuition has been on the rise for many, many years and plays a large role in both college selection and student loan debt.

But there are also other fees that come with a college education, such as room and board. Student loans can cover those expenses as well. Tuition, as well as room and board, are one of the largest expenses that you student loan covers.

Textbooks & Supplies

Textbooks aren’t cheap (though there are a few ways you can save money on them), but they’re a big part of college learning. Many professors have strict requirements of which textbooks they want you to buy, down to the edition. Sometimes, there’s no way around paying a lot of money for a textbook. Student loans can help you cover the cost of the books, as well as other necessary supplies like computers, notebooks, backpacks, and printing costs.

Housing & Living Expenses

Freshman often live in a dorm their first year, but afterwards many move into other forms of university housing or even find an apartment just off campus. Rent and utility bills have to come from somewhere, and student loans can be a big help with that.

Additionally, students have to eat. Even with a part-time job, grocery bills can be difficult to cover in full. Loans can help keep you fed. If you decide to live on-campus or your school doesn’t allow off-campus housing, your student loans can help cover living in the dorms.


Having a car can be expensive. There are parking passes, meters to pay, gas to fill, tolls to pay, and maintenance to do. Even if you don’t have a car on campus, bus passes can cost money too (though check out your local bus system to see if they offer a student discount), as will mopeds, or even bikes. Most likely, you’ll want some form of transportation, depending on your campus size or town size.

What You SHOULDN’T Use Student Loans For

Though ultimately you have control over the funds, there are certain things you really shouldn’t use your student loans for. Anything considered non-essential should only be bought with pocket money, or put on birthday wish-lists. Your student loans should go to your necessary student expenses. Remember, it’s a loan, which means that it someday has to be repaid. If you spend it on non-essentials, that’s still money that has to be repaid. Don’t saddle yourself with more debt because you spent your student loans on something besides your education.

Student loans can help you pay for the various expenses that come with college, but should be used wisely. Wasting or running out of funds can cost you big time in the long run. Spend smart!

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