What Can Student Loans Be Used For?

When you take out student loans to cover your education, it’s not always required to use them for tuition and fees. Instead, most loan lenders, including the federal government and private loan lenders, allow you to use the funds to cover other education expenses. 

That’s vital information to know since tuition and fees take up only a small portion of the entire bill. According to the U.S. Department of Education, the total cost of attendance is a student’s total amount to pay for college each year.

The cost of attendance includes: 

  • Room and board, 
  • Tuition and fees, 
  • Transportation, 
  • Other select expenses 

Let’s find out more about what you can use student loans for.

What You Can Use Student Loans For

You can use your student loans for educated expenses certified by the school. For example, according to the Office of Federal Student Aid, you can use the student loan amount for the below purposes: 

College Tuition And Fees 

The student loans you take out can cover your tuition and fees. These are the standard college costs when you enroll in a program and attend classes. 

Room And Board 

You can use your student loans to pay for your meals and living expenses, such as campus housing and school meal plans and the personal groceries you buy. 

Institutional Fees 

If your college charges institutional fees such as parking fees, lab fees, etc., you can use some loans to cover such costs. 

Books And Supplies 

A study from the College Board shows that the average college student spends over $1,200 on books and supplies every year. As such, you can use a portion of your student loans to cover notebooks, textbooks, book bags, and other supplies. 

Personal Expenses 

You may need personal items such as a microwave for your apartment or ben linens for the dorm. You can use your student loans to purchase such items. 


You can use your student loans to purchase equipment necessary for your schoolwork like software, personal computer, etc. 

Dependent Care Expenses 

If you have a child who needs constant care while in school, your loans can cover such expenses. 


According to the College Board, the average transportation cost at public universities is $1,230 and $1,060 at private universities each year. You can use your loans to pay for the car, gas, or insurance. Alternatively, you can use it to pay for a train pass or bus. 

Study Abroad Expenses 

If you want to study in another country, you can use your student loans to pay for the program, including extra costs. 

Other Documented Costs 

If your college has extra required costs like school-mandated insurance, you can use your loans to cover those expenses. 

What Your Student Loans Shouldn’t Cover 

You may have some student loan money left after paying for everything explained in the previous section. If so, don’t spend the remaining amount on the following: 

  • Entertainment 
  • Travel
  • Dining out
  • Gym memberships 

You can use your student loans for these things because it’s not permitted in the loan terms. You sign a loan agreement or promissory note when you take out a loan. In that agreement, you certify that you’ll only use the loan for education-related expenses. 

With federal student loans, you make that agreement under the penalty of perjury. You can be in serious consequences when you’re caught. Once you graduate, you’ll need to start repaying your student loans. 

Even though you can find several student loan forgiveness to assist you in your loan repayment, it’s not advisable to borrow beyond your financial need. And spending the money on splurges now means you’ll pay more later due to accrued interest. 

Final Thoughts 

There are limits to how much you can borrow from federal student loans. If you reach the annual borrowing limit, you can opt for private student loans. If you have a good credit score and credit history, you can qualify for a low-interest rate. 

That low-interest rate can help you save lots of money on monthly payments. But you may not have established credit yet. So you can consider a cosigner for your loan application. 

However, keep in mind that the cosigner has to pay instead

 when you fall behind in your payments.