Many college students choose to live off campus while attending college, in order to have more privacy and to save money. However, if you decide to live off campus, you should make sure that you are financially able to do so. If you qualify, you may or may be able to use financial aid to pay for your off-campus living expenses.
Function of Aid
According to the U.S. Department of Education, students may use federal financial aid funds to pay for their off-campus housing expenses. However, in order to receive financial aid, a student must first complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Based on how the student answers the questions, the application will show whether or not the student demonstrates a need for financial aid.
This information is sent to the student’s college of choice, and the financial aid office prepares an award letter for that student. However, a student must be enrolled in that school and attending classes in order to receive financial aid. The student may receive a refund check from the school to pay for his off-campus housing (depending on how much financial aid she was awarded).
Types of Aid
Grant money is free money that is provided from the government to assist college students with their financial needs. Students may qualify for one or more of the following grants: Federal Pell Grant, The Academic Competitiveness Grant (ACG), Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), The National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant), Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant) and Institutional Grants.
Students may also qualify for student loans. However, students must repay their loans after graduating from college; or if they drop out of school or stay away from college for longer than a six-month period. Federal student loans include Perkins, Stafford and PLUS loans. There are also a variety of private and alternative loans that are offered through banks, credit unions and other financial institutions.
In addition, students may also qualify to participate in the Federal Work-Study program (FWS). The Work-Study program provides employment for students (normally on-campus), while they are attending college. Lastly, there are a number of scholarship programs available for students to apply for. Some scholarships are need-based, while others are academic or extracurricular programs.
Financial Aid Benefits
Since many college students prefer to live off campus, they depend on financial aid to meet their housing needs. Fortunately, no credit or collateral is needed to qualify for federal student aid from the government. However, please keep in mind that most private/alternative loan programs do perform a credit check before approving a student or parent for financial aid. Also, depending on the amount of financial aid a student receives, she may not have to work while attending school. This gives students the opportunity to attend school full-time and take extra courses, in order to earn their degree a lot sooner. In addition, living off campus may also save a student a significant amount of money; since on-campus housing can be rather expensive at certain colleges and universities.
Can You Live off Campus?
If you choose to live off campus, you may or may not qualify for the same amount of financial aid that you would receive if you actually lived on campus. Therefore, you should plan wisely and budget your money, in order to properly cover your off-campus living expenses. In addition, your school may require you to live on campus during your freshman and/or sophomore year of college. Not all schools have the same housing requirements, so you should check with that specific college before making a decision about living off campus.
If you prefer to live off campus, maybe you should consider staying at home with your parents or a close relative, so you can save money while you are in school. Or perhaps, you can find a roommate to share an apartment with, to help you pay for your housing expenses. Also, if you are considering living off campus, be sure to include this information on your FAFSA. For financial aid reasons, both your school and the Department of Education need to know whether you plan to live on or off campus.