As college students, loans have become such a big part of our lives. It feels as if everything costs way too much money, and by the time we graduate, we’re going to be drowning in our loans.
However, loans are one of the best ways to get through school when you don’t have the financial ability to pay for it yourself. What many students don’t realize is that utilizing loans can mean so much more than just paying tuition costs. It can also help to pay for housing, books and any other school-related costs that are overwhelming to your bank account.
So for those of you that have been living in student housing the past few years and are just beginning to explore apartment in Roanoke, VA, here are some tips so that you can use your student loans to help pay for your housing.
1. Apply for the right student loan.
It all starts right here. When you’re applying for student loans, you want to make sure you’re picking one that will not only cover your tuition, but one that will also cover your housing costs.
While you’re more likely to get this through private student loans (disbursed through banks), these interest rates are usually much higher than federal student loans (applied for directly through your financial aid office at whatever college you’re attending).
Keep all of this information in mind when searching for student loans, as these are things you’ll want to know before you get a loan that you realize won’t work for your specific situation.
2. Keep budget in mind when apartment searching.
Looking for an apartment is stressful enough: don’t sign a contract without knowing you can pay for it too.
The best way to determine what your budget will be is to figure out how much money you applied for in your loan and then subtract the tuition. What you’re left with is how much money you’ll be able to spend on your housing.
By figuring how much you can spend per month on rent, you’ll be able to determine what your apartment budget is.
3. Don’t forget about utilities.
Another important factor when figuring your budget for an apartment is to remember that the rent oftentimes doesn’t include utilities.
Internet, cable, electric and water are usually not included in your rent and something you will also need to factor into your monthly budget. Typically, you should allow about $100 a month for these extra expenses just to be safe (could be more or less depending on how many roommates will be splitting these extra expenses).
4. Be prepared for a security deposit.
You will want to apply for your loan long before you plan on moving into an apartment, leaving ample time for everything to go through.
This is because usually, you will need to put down a security deposit and last month’s rent right off the bat, so you will need to make sure you have the money at this point.
Typically, first and last month’s rent are due on move-in day while your security deposit is due on the day you sign the lease. This is a lot of money that adds up right off the bat, so be prepared for it.
Also, always assume you won’t be getting the security deposit back. Don’t throw money you don’t have at it with the assumption it’ll be yours again at the end of the year, because in a student apartment, this is typically not the case.
5. Make payments on time.
Most apartments charge an obnoxiously large late-payment fee for late rent payments, so make sure you’re avoiding this unnecessary extra cost by paying your rent on time.
Also, make any utility payments etc. on time as well. Loans may feel like free money, but you will be paying back every cent (plus interest) when you graduate. So make sure you’re spending money responsibly and keeping track of your payments as best you can.
6. Spend sparingly.
And finally, while this would seem like a no-brainer, it oftentimes isn’t. While it’s tempting to go out to eat all the time with your friends, or to buy the extra expensive grocery items your parents don’t get you at home, your loan shouldn’t be used for lavish living.
Just because you see the money in your bank account doesn’t mean it should be spent. Use your loan for rent and utilities (and other necessities) but end it there.
The more you spend, the more it’ll cost you later. So the more sparingly you spend, the better.
Student loans are a great way to get money for school fast, but they also shouldn’t be taken lightly. Money is no joke, and neither are your loans. So don’t let it stop you from getting an apartment in Roanoke, VA, but be careful with them as well.