Student loans 14 February 2023

7 Best Student Loans for Living Expenses

Make your student life much easier with loans that not only cover tuition fees but your entire living expenses. Read more to find out the right student loans for living expenses that work best for you.

Student loans for living expenses

Student loans for living expenses can be a great way to pay for college. They are designed to help students who may not have the financial resources to cover all their costs, and can provide access to education that would otherwise be unattainable. Generally, student loans cover tuition fees and other school-related expenses such as books, supplies, and room and board. In addition, they can also be used to cover living costs such as housing, food, and transportation while in school.

These student loans are usually offered with low interest rates, so that students can pay them back after graduation at an affordable rate. Taking out a student loan for living expenses is often a good option for those who cannot afford to pay their living costs out of pocket, and they can help to make college more accessible. The repayment terms are also often very reasonable, meaning that students can manage their debts with relative ease. Ultimately, student loans for living expenses offer a valuable way to cover the cost of college and make it more feasible for those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend.

Federal and Private Student Loans for Living Expenses

Generally, federal and private loans are disbursed directly to your school because they primarily cover tuition and fees if you stay on campus, room, and board. However, schools typically refund students any leftover money, which should cover living expenses. But, there are restrictions on how you can use these funds. If used responsibly, you can avoid serious financial trouble, given that the money is only available once every semester, and federal and private loans have different disbursement periods. As a result, student loans only cover certain living expenses.

Living Expenses Covered by Student Loans

Student loans are designed to cover more than just tuition costs. They can also be used to pay for living expenses while in school, such as rent, food, utilities and transportation. This allows students to focus on their studies without having to worry about how they will make ends meet. Additionally, student loan repayment plans are often flexible enough that borrowers can pay off their loans over time, which can help them manage their financial obligations while in school or afterwards. Student loan debt is a significant burden for many students, but it can also be an invaluable resource in helping them achieve their educational and career goals. By utilizing student loan funds wisely, borrowers are able to finance their education without putting other areas of their lives at risk.

Student loans can cover the following living expenses:

  • Rent
  • Groceries
  • Housing Utilities
  • Housing necessities such as furniture
  • Personal hygiene items
  • Laptop for school
  • Books and other school supplies
  • Tutoring or courses that will help you excel in your degree
  • Transport
  • Child care

You can calculate your monthly payments based on your loan and interest rate to figure out if taking out the loan for living expenses is the right option for you. Calculate below:

Enter your loan information

Loan amount

Interest rate

Loan term

How to Use Student Loans For Living Expenses

Apply for student loans

The first step to accessing student loans is to submit your application. To apply for federal student loans, you must submit your FAFSA form. As for private loans, you must conduct thorough research on different lenders as their application processes differ.

Borrow just what you need

The best way for you to create financial stability throughout your college career is to not over-borrow. Take your time to understand what student loans are, their terms and the exact amount you need after assessing your family contributions, savings, or scholarships and deduct them from your school’s cost of attendance. The result is a reasonable estimate of the amount you should take out in student loans.

Check your school’s refund policies

Some schools distribute the remaining funds directly to your account, while others send you a check. After receiving the check, you can deposit it in your account and make transactions as usual.

Cover Your Essential Expenses First

Once funds are received, pay your bills. It is always important to prioritize paying your bills first when dealing with a loan. Paying your bills first helps ensure that all of your regular financial obligations are taken care of to relieve some of the financial pressure and allow you to focus on repaying your loan in a timely manner. Additionally, paying your bills first also helps ensure that any late or missed payments don’t negatively affect your credit score or overall financial health. Taking the time to prioritize paying bills first can help you manage your loan more effectively and ensure that all of your financial obligations are taken care of.

Living Expenses to Avoid Using Student Loans

When using student loans to cover the cost of living while attending college, it is important to be careful. Many students take out more in loans than necessary, leading to large amounts of debt that can be difficult to manage after graduation. It is also important to understand that student loan debt does not usually go away if you decide not to finish your degree. Many lenders require loan repayment regardless of whether or not you completed your degree. It is important to plan carefully and only take out the number of student loans needed for living expenses, and avoid borrowing more than necessary. Student loans don’t cover the following expenses:

  • Buying a car
  • Down payments 
  • Loan repayments 
  • Going on vacation 
  • Buying designer clothes or other luxuries 
  • Non-school related electronics
  • Dining at expensive restaurants or clubbing

Best Student Loans for Living Expenses

We have compared a detailed review of the top lenders giving student loans for living expenses

LenderScholarooratingOur viewFixed ratesstarting (APR)Variable ratesstarting (APR)Learn more

Sallie Mae

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5/5Best loan limit policies4.50%5.00%Visit website

College Ave

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4.8/5Best repayment terms3.99%3.99%Visit website


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4/5Best eligibility requirements4.49%4.49%Visit website


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4.8/5Best for international students4.62%5.31%Visit website


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4.5/5Best interest rate discounts4.494.63Visit website

Citizens Bank

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3.9/5Best co-signer policies4.994.59Visit website


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3.5/5Most accessible4.89N/AVisit website

#1 Sallie Mae

Sallie Mae is a consumer banking corporation founded in 1972. The company offers various products, including savings accounts, credit cards, and private student loans. Sallie Mae’s student loans for undergraduates and graduates are designed to help students achieve their dreams and make the necessary investment to create a healthy financial future.

Pros of Sallie Mae

  • Multiple deferment options
  • Can cover 100 percent of your school attendance cost
  • Part-time students are eligible

Cons of Sallie Mae

  • Does not offer student loan refinance

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Strong credit score
  • Employment history
  • Must be a U.S citizen or permanent resident

Repayment Details:

  • Deferred repayment, no payment while in school and during the grace period
  • Fixed $25 payments while in school and during the grace period
  • Interest only payment while in school

#2 College Ave

College Ave offers tailored private student loans and refinancing to undergraduate and graduate students and parents. The company has designed its website to help students find loans that fit their needs and budget. Earnest is known for its straightforward, stress-free, and personalized policies that make its private loans attractive to students.

Pros of College Ave:

  • Soft credit check
  • Flexible repayment terms
  • Cosigner release policies

Cons of College Ave:

  • No information regarding credit requirements on the website

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be attending at least part-time an accredited college or university

Repayment Details:

  • Deferred payments, six to thirty-six grace period after graduation
  • Five to twenty loan terms
  • Flat repayment option with $25 monthly payments while in school

#3 Earnest

Earnest is a fintech lender founded in 2013. The company offers financing solutions to students, including private student loans and refinancing. Earnest loans are designed to be flexible to make higher education more accessible and affordable. The company differentiates itself from competitors by offering low rates loans and refinancing to help students reach their financial and savings goals faster.

Pros of Earnest:

  • Flexible repayment options
  • No late payment penalties
  • Autopay discounts

Cons of Earnest:

  • No cosigner release policies

Eligibility Requirements:

  • 650 minimum credit score
  • Minimum income of $35,000 per year
  • Three years’ worth of credit history

Repayment Details:

  • Deferred payment with a nine-month grace period after graduation
  • Interest only payments while in school
  • Fixed $25 monthly payments while in school

#4 Ascent

Ascent is a private loan company offering private student loans and consumer boot camp loans. The company provides financing solutions to students who do not meet the eligibility requirements of most lenders. Ascent also has scholarship programs, rewards programs, and free online resources designed to prepare students for financial success.

Pros of Ascent:

  • No cosigner or credit loans
  • Two years of financial hardship forbearance
  • International students are eligible

Cons of Ascent:

  • High Annual percentage rate (APR)

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident, DACA or international student
  • Must be at least 18 years old
  • Must be at least a part-time student

Repayment Details:

  • Nine-month grace period after graduation
  • Ten to 20 years repayment options
  • Interest only, deferred, and $25 minimum repayment options

#5 SoFi

SoFi is a personal finance company and bank offering financial products, including private student loans, personal loans, credit cards, and auto loan refinancing. The company also provides online services such as mobile app banking. SoFi is always looking for new ways to innovate its student loans to help students realize their financial goals and dreams.

Pros of SoFi :

  • Career coaching through the member benefits program
  • Member discounts
  • No origination or late payment fees

Cons of SoFi:

  • Requires a high credit score for loan refinancing

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a U.S citizen, permanent resident, or visa holder
  • Must be enrolled in a degree program
  • Must pass a credit check

Repayment Details:

  • A deferred option with a six-month grace period after graduation
  • Partial payment option, $25 monthly while in school
  • Moderate interest only payment option while in school

#6 Citizens Bank

Citizens Bank offers personal, student, and business financing products. The bank provides tailored and innovative student loans and financial ideas to help students realize their financial ambitions and successful future. Citizens Bank offers multi-year approvals, which enables students to fund their four-year stay in college with only one application.

Pros of Citizens Bank:

  • Interest rate and autopay discounts
  • Multiple repayment options
  • Flexible cosigner release terms

Cons of Citizens Bank:

  • Late payment fees

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must have a minimum annual income of $12,000
  • Must have a reasonably strong credit score
  • Must be at least 18 years old

Repayment Details:

  • Immediate option, repayment starts as soon as the funds are disbursed
  • Interest-only option, interest on the loan is paid while in school
  • Deferred option, no payment during the six-month grace period after graduation or in school

#7 Mefa

Mefa, or Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority, offers resources and tools to help students to help them plan for college and their future. The organization provides graduate and undergraduate student loans available to all students across the country. Mefa student loans have fixed interest rates to promote financial success and reduce the amount of debt students have to repay after graduation.


  • No origination or application fees
  • No prepayment penalties
  • Multiple repayment options


  • No interest rate or automatic payment discounts

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident
  • Must maintain a good academic process
  • Must be enrolled at a not-for-profit college or university

Repayment Details:

  • Interest-only option, interest-only payments 28 days after loan disbursement while in school
  • Immediate full option, full loan repayment twenty-eight days after disbursement
  • Deferred option with a six-month grace period after graduation


How to apply for student loans for living expenses? 

You can apply for federal student loans for living expenses by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). For private loans, you must conduct thorough research and compare different lenders as their application processes and requirements differ.  

What are the best student loans for living expenses? 

There are many options available. Federal student loans generally offer the most competitive interest rates and repayment terms, making them a great option for students who need help covering their living expenses while in school. Private lenders may also be an option, though they typically come with higher interest rates and require credit checks. It’s important to shop around and compare lenders before agreeing to a loan. Additionally, many student aid programs offer grants and scholarships that can help cover costs without having to take out a loan at all. Ultimately, the best student loans for living expenses are those that have the lowest interest rates and best repayment terms for your particular situation. 

Do federal loans cover student living expenses?

Federal student loans cover both tuition and living expenses, including rent, housing utilities, groceries, and personal hygiene items. Living expenses are part of your school’s cost of attention which FAFSA uses to determine how much aid you should receive.