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College Costs Overview

To effectively measure how big or small your student loan and student budget should be, consider the following:


Tuition prices vary and will depend on your school's classification and location. Sometimes the "sticker price" isn't what your family will actually pay. Consider this:

  • Is your school public or private?
  • Is it in-state or out-of-state?
  • What is your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
  • Are you applying for grants and scholarships?

Room and Board

It seems obvious enough, but be sure to include room and board in your college budget.

  • Will you live on-campus, off-campus or commute from home?
  • Compare your school's on-campus living costs with the city's off-campus living costs.

Books and Supplies

A big part of the college student budget is textbooks. Also include the costs of notebooks, binders, supplies, lab equipment, course fees and a computer, if you need one.

Savings Tip

If you're taking out unsubsidized Stafford Loans, you may want to send interest payments each quarter while you are in school or if you choose to delay loan payments by requesting forbearance. During these periods, you will receive quarterly interest statements. Paying the interest as it accrues each quarter will save you money over the repayment term of the loan because any accrued interest that you do not pay will be added to the principal balance at the end of the forbearance period.

When the loan re-enters repayment, interest will be calculated on the higher principal balance. Therefore, the total amount you will repay over the life of the loan will increase.

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You are encouraged to explore all scholarship, grant and federal borrowing options before applying for a private loan.

PNC does not provide accounting, tax or legal advice.