Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

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Jenny17
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Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Jenny17 » Fri Dec 17, 2010 8:38 pm

Hello! I recently received my 1st acceptance to law school (I haven't even received the official letter in the mail yet so I don't know if I was offered any scholarships; I am not expecting any).

During undergraduate school, I lived at home (still do), and my tuition for a public university was covered by need-based grants and scholarships, so I never took out any loans. I am apprehensive about taking out loans, especially taking out a lot of loans (worst case scenario is $150,000). I expect to easily qualify for Federal Loans. However, I am not expecting any assistance from my parents who I currently live with, and they won't co-sign for me.

Even though I make a pittance, I am frugal, and I am planning on having $10-20,000 set aside for law school living expenses. So the bottom line: how do poor people go to law school? Even with scrimping and saving, it seems that being saddled with loans is not getting ahead. For the record, I have no assets at all, nor did I make any significant income this year. Will my parents' income count in the FAFSA process (they still declare me as a dependent)? Do I need to have a co-signer? I've reviewed the loans, but I'm interested in how generous the schools are with need-based grants. Thanks!

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jeremydc
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby jeremydc » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:47 pm

You know, I am in the same boat. Getting through undergrad with the Pell Grant and other small scholarships.
I am sure the majority of students take out some type of loan. I guess its a risk-reward kind of thing. I am willing to take out 120-150 in loans to go to Rutgers because I WANT to be a lawyer. I am taking that chance because I want to be happy.

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Stanford4Me
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Stanford4Me » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:51 pm

Poor people go to law school the same way middle class people go to law school - loans. If you don't get scholarships, you're getting loans.

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mpj_3050
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby mpj_3050 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:53 pm

What school are you talking about? Are we talking 150 in a hyper-competitive area with high cost of living? If you can't get into one of the elites than look around for decent public schools; 150k is a massive amount of money. Hell, I wish I didn't have to take out any loans for undergrad. I don't have too much but it still is a pain.

Brock2010
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Brock2010 » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:57 pm

Scholarships from schools? Depends on the school. Depends on your stats. blah blah. You'll (as will I) be graduating from law school with a ton of debt. I'm a little concerned that you've been applying to law school without knowing this shit.

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Holly Golightly
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Holly Golightly » Sun Dec 19, 2010 3:58 pm

Loans, loans, lots of loans.

ArghItsBlarg
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby ArghItsBlarg » Sun Dec 19, 2010 5:01 pm

If debt is the primary concern for you (and that's reasonable) then I would suggest studying your ass off for the LSAT. I mean, hard. Do all the practice tests, check your library for powerscore bibles, etc (I hear those on the gray side of the law can find practice tests and bibles online). Study for months. Get a high LSAT score, and I mean at least 165, preferably above 170. Then, instead of aiming to attend a T14, concentrate on lower T1's and T2's in the area in which you'd like to practice. T2's, on the whole, seem to offer a lot more merit scholarship money than do T1's. Continue to study hard, and I mean, hard, in law school and aim for the top 10% of your class. Upon graduation, this should put you in a competitive position in your geographic area, with substantially less debt than you would be carrying coming from a T14 at sticker.

This is not something you can bank upon. Law school is hard and there are no guarantees that native smarts can keep you in the top 10%. It's a tangible risk going to a lower tier school because of scholarship, but it's also far from unheard of to be successful doing so. It will all come down to you, your work ethic and the work ethic of others in your class. If you push yourself throughout law school you stand to reap the benefits, but there are no guarantees.

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dextermorgan
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby dextermorgan » Sun Dec 19, 2010 6:00 pm

Loans, and stripping.

Jenny17
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Jenny17 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:12 pm

dextermorgan wrote:Loans, and stripping.


A sugardaddy has also crossed my mind. :wink:

I've read all the 411 on loans. I'm just overwhelmed about borrowing massive amounts of money since I've never lived in debt. Ideally, I would keep my loans to $60-90,000 since I am not betting on a BigLaw salary. And I shouldn't need a co-signer for Federal Loans/the Grad PLUS.

What about need-based grants? I got some for UG - are law schools as generous, and what is the average amount?

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Bildungsroman
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Bildungsroman » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:14 pm

Jenny17 wrote:What about need-based grants? I got some for UG - are law schools as generous


Nope, law schools are not as generous with need-based aid.

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Stanford4Me
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Stanford4Me » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:15 pm

Jenny17 wrote:
dextermorgan wrote:Loans, and stripping.


A sugardaddy has also crossed my mind. :wink:

I've read all the 411 on loans. I'm just overwhelmed about borrowing massive amounts of money since I've never lived in debt. Ideally, I would keep my loans to $60-90,000 since I am not betting on a BigLaw salary. And I shouldn't need a co-signer for Federal Loans/the Grad PLUS.

What about need-based grants? I got some for UG - are law schools as generous, and what is the average amount?


Need-based grants are rare, a few schools give them, but not many. Most schools focus on merit-based aid, which is why a lot of people here stress the importance of studying for and doing well on the LSAT. Additionally, a lot of schools offer Loan Assistance Repayment Programs (LARP) if you decide to go into an area of law the school considers "public interest." Also, the Government's new bill (I forget the name) which forgives your debt after 10 years if you work in public interest (subject to its terms and conditions) makes it easier to pursue a law degree. I should note, however, that these assistance programs through the school and government should not be seen as an "out," allowing you to take on six figures in debt, thinking all-the-while that the government/school are going to take care of it for you.

Jenny17
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Jenny17 » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:23 pm

Stanford4Me wrote:
Need-based grants are rare, a few schools give them, but not many. Most schools focus on merit-based aid, which is why a lot of people here stress the importance of studying for and doing well on the LSAT. Additionally, a lot of schools offer Loan Assistance Repayment Programs (LARP) if you decide to go into an area of law the school considers "public interest." Also, the Government's new bill (I forget the name) which forgives your debt after 10 years if you work in public interest (subject to its terms and conditions) makes it easier to pursue a law degree. I should note, however, that these assistance programs through the school and government should not be seen as an "out," allowing you to take on six figures in debt, thinking all-the-while that the government/school are going to take care of it for you.


Some clarification: Is working for a federal agency considered "public interest" law?

While technically working for "the government" is non-profit and in the public interest, I have never personally considered it in the league of something like working for a legal aid clinic.

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Stanford4Me
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Stanford4Me » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:30 pm

Jenny17 wrote:
Some clarification: Is working for a federal agency considered "public interest" law?

While technically working for "the government" is non-profit and in the public interest, I have never personally considered it in the league of something like working for a legal aid clinic.


I think for purposes of the legislative bill it is (though you'll want to discuss that with financial aid officers), and for a school's LARP program it depends on the school. NYU allows you to work for government agencies (USDOJ, FBI, CIA, Dept of State, etc.) and you will qualify for its LARP program. It doesn't classify such jobs as "public interest," but it still allows you to receive LARP benefits.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Bildungsroman » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:33 pm

Yo Stanny@NYU it's LRAP.

LARP is something that lonely people do on weekends.

Image

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Stanford4Me
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Stanford4Me » Mon Dec 20, 2010 8:37 pm

Bildungsroman wrote:Yo Stanny@NYU it's LRAP.

LARP is something that lonely people do on weekends.

[img]

I know something felt wrong as I was typing it out. Thanks for the heads up.

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DeeCee
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby DeeCee » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:12 am

Bildungsroman wrote:Yo Stanny@NYU it's LRAP.

LARP is something that lonely people do on weekends.

Image


LOL

nonprofit-prophet
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:41 am

I think the "take out loans" answer is somewhat simplistic. In looking at my own options, I noticed that the school I'll likely go to has a somewhat unrealistic COA. Definitely not enough for food. At that point, what do poor people do? Do they take on more credit card debt, since they can't get federal loans in excess of the COA? Both my parents are broke and I am NOT listed as a dependent of theirs. I have a fairly well paying job (given my sector), but live in an expensive city, so I'll have 5-7 grand max saved up for LS, but I still need to buy a car. So how do poor people do it?

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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby cowgirl_bebop » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:13 am

nonprofit-prophet wrote:I think the "take out loans" answer is somewhat simplistic. In looking at my own options, I noticed that the school I'll likely go to has a somewhat unrealistic COA. Definitely not enough for food. At that point, what do poor people do? Do they take on more credit card debt, since they can't get federal loans in excess of the COA? Both my parents are broke and I am NOT listed as a dependent of theirs. I have a fairly well paying job (given my sector), but live in an expensive city, so I'll have 5-7 grand max saved up for LS, but I still need to buy a car. So how do poor people do it?


Try to get more scholarship money out of your school. Many schools also have excess grant money they can give to students who are the most needy. Some schools also let you increase your allotted COA for certain things, such as living or computer expenses. Make the most of that. If you cannot work, try to do a small side hustle to bring in some cash. Answer a Craigslist ad to help someone move on the weekend or clean up a house. If you have any marketable skills (such as doing hair or any trade skills), offer your services.

I am going to be in a similar situation. I need to find a way to cover food, clothing, housing, and other expenses, and federal loans my not be enough. Im trying to stick to small loans of about $10K-$15K a year and make up the rest with savings and/or a side hustle. Private loans are not an option and I also cannot rely on financial contributions from my family. I will most likely end up in a city where I dont need a car, so that is working in my favor.

Good luck!!

nonprofit-prophet
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:18 am

cowgirl_bebop wrote:
nonprofit-prophet wrote:I think the "take out loans" answer is somewhat simplistic. In looking at my own options, I noticed that the school I'll likely go to has a somewhat unrealistic COA. Definitely not enough for food. At that point, what do poor people do? Do they take on more credit card debt, since they can't get federal loans in excess of the COA? Both my parents are broke and I am NOT listed as a dependent of theirs. I have a fairly well paying job (given my sector), but live in an expensive city, so I'll have 5-7 grand max saved up for LS, but I still need to buy a car. So how do poor people do it?


Try to get more scholarship money out of your school. Many schools also have excess grant money they can give to students who are the most needy. Some schools also let you increase your allotted COA for certain things, such as living or computer expenses. Make the most of that. If you cannot work, try to do a small side hustle to bring in some cash. Answer a Craigslist ad to help someone move on the weekend or clean up a house. If you have any marketable skills (such as doing hair or any trade skills), offer your services.

I am going to be in a similar situation. I need to find a way to cover food, clothing, housing, and other expenses, and federal loans my not be enough. Im trying to stick to small loans of about $10K-$15K a year and make up the rest with savings and/or a side hustle. Private loans are not an option and I also cannot rely on financial contributions from my family. I will most likely end up in a city where I dont need a car, so that is working in my favor.

Good luck!!



wow small loans of 15k? Given my school's COA, I'd be paying nearly 50k out of pocket (probably more) if I did the same thing. The only issue with scholarships is that they reduce your school's COA estimate for you, so the issue still stands: if the initial COA is lowballed, you still need to figure out an extra source of money. I guess odd jobs may be a way to make up the extra cash. Is there work-study in law school?

Bumi
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby Bumi » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:23 am

How many people do you think have $250k in the bank sitting around to pay for law school and living expenses?

Everyone else gets loans.
Even with scrimping and saving, it seems that being saddled with loans is not getting ahead.

Yeah, you think you're the only one who realizes that law school in 2010 is a pretty poor financial decision?

I think the "take out loans" answer is somewhat simplistic. In looking at my own options, I noticed that the school I'll likely go to has a somewhat unrealistic COA. Definitely not enough for food. At that point, what do poor people do? Do they take on more credit card debt, since they can't get federal loans in excess of the COA? Both my parents are broke and I am NOT listed as a dependent of theirs. I have a fairly well paying job (given my sector), but live in an expensive city, so I'll have 5-7 grand max saved up for LS, but I still need to buy a car. So how do poor people do it?

Keep in mind that those COA figures don't include the summer, when you are expected to work to cover your expenses. Also, do you really need a car? Need?

You keep calling yourself poor, but you have a well paying job. You're not asking what poor people do, you're asking what people who can't count on support from their parents do. Which is a lot of people. And those COA figures are low, but there are a lot of people who live on that much.

nonprofit-prophet
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:47 am

Bumi wrote:How many people do you think have $250k in the bank sitting around to pay for law school and living expenses?

Everyone else gets loans.
Even with scrimping and saving, it seems that being saddled with loans is not getting ahead.

Yeah, you think you're the only one who realizes that law school in 2010 is a pretty poor financial decision?

I think the "take out loans" answer is somewhat simplistic. In looking at my own options, I noticed that the school I'll likely go to has a somewhat unrealistic COA. Definitely not enough for food. At that point, what do poor people do? Do they take on more credit card debt, since they can't get federal loans in excess of the COA? Both my parents are broke and I am NOT listed as a dependent of theirs. I have a fairly well paying job (given my sector), but live in an expensive city, so I'll have 5-7 grand max saved up for LS, but I still need to buy a car. So how do poor people do it?

Keep in mind that those COA figures don't include the summer, when you are expected to work to cover your expenses. Also, do you really need a car? Need?

You keep calling yourself poor, but you have a well paying job. You're not asking what poor people do, you're asking what people who can't count on support from their parents do. Which is a lot of people. And those COA figures are low, but there are a lot of people who live on that much.



That's a fair point. I guess In my mind I still define my socio-economic status by my childhood experiences. My job does pay decently well. Nothing near 6 figures, but it certainly isn't entry level.

As to your point about working summers; I was under the impression that you don't usually get a well paying summer gig until your 2L summer. I figured my 1L summer internship would barely cover my expenses that summer, but probably wouldn't allow me to save for 2L expenses. Is that not the case?

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arism87
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby arism87 » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:49 am

So I gather you can't take out loans beyond COL? I'm sure people DO live on that amount but to be quite honest I will probably be bad at it. I'm not paying sticker (or close to it) so I don't mind taking a little extra out in loans for COL- not a possibility?

cowgirl_bebop
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby cowgirl_bebop » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:54 am

nonprofit-prophet wrote:
cowgirl_bebop wrote:
nonprofit-prophet wrote:I think the "take out loans" answer is somewhat simplistic. In looking at my own options, I noticed that the school I'll likely go to has a somewhat unrealistic COA. Definitely not enough for food. At that point, what do poor people do? Do they take on more credit card debt, since they can't get federal loans in excess of the COA? Both my parents are broke and I am NOT listed as a dependent of theirs. I have a fairly well paying job (given my sector), but live in an expensive city, so I'll have 5-7 grand max saved up for LS, but I still need to buy a car. So how do poor people do it?


Try to get more scholarship money out of your school. Many schools also have excess grant money they can give to students who are the most needy. Some schools also let you increase your allotted COA for certain things, such as living or computer expenses. Make the most of that. If you cannot work, try to do a small side hustle to bring in some cash. Answer a Craigslist ad to help someone move on the weekend or clean up a house. If you have any marketable skills (such as doing hair or any trade skills), offer your services.

I am going to be in a similar situation. I need to find a way to cover food, clothing, housing, and other expenses, and federal loans my not be enough. Im trying to stick to small loans of about $10K-$15K a year and make up the rest with savings and/or a side hustle. Private loans are not an option and I also cannot rely on financial contributions from my family. I will most likely end up in a city where I dont need a car, so that is working in my favor.

Good luck!!



wow small loans of 15k? Given my school's COA, I'd be paying nearly 50k out of pocket (probably more) if I did the same thing. The only issue with scholarships is that they reduce your school's COA estimate for you, so the issue still stands: if the initial COA is lowballed, you still need to figure out an extra source of money. I guess odd jobs may be a way to make up the extra cash. Is there work-study in law school?


Your school should calculate your COA based on not only your tuition, but also on COL, transportation, and incidentals. So long as you economize, you should be able to live comfortably enough to get by within that limit. They calculate what you should be spending on housing, health insurance, transportation, books, etc. How much do you anticipate spending outside of that, and on what?

TheStrand
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby TheStrand » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:55 am

Without knowing the specifics of what school you want to go to, or what you want to do after (which, frankly, I would not count on either; a ridiculous amount of people say they don't want to do biglaw going into law school, that they want to do public interest work after graduation and they get there and they change their minds once they see the 40k-70k paycheck versus $120K + for Biglaw not to mention the intense competition for what people think of when they think public interest--if I had a dollar for every time someone said they wanted to work for the ACLU then realized they didn't go to HYS...), it is difficult to tell you "how to pay for it." You are definitely going to have to take out loans. I would not at all count on the school giving you need-based aid. Everyone is needy. By the FAFSA definition, if you are applying to a graduate program you are an "independent." Unless someone has a significant number of years out of undergrad working at a good job, most everyone's FAFSA reports say they have no money.

When I applied to undergrad I was in a somewhat similar situation. My parents would not cosign or give me any aid, and I had zero assets. I took out about 100k to attend undergrad, all of it private loans (side note: if you are taking out private loans make sure you get one with no origination fee, this adds a lot onto the amount, and for the love of god, shop around rates and bargain with lenders to get lower ones, if you have good credit, you can get prime rate -0.75% or more; I personally like Citibanks'). I graduated, got a job that paid $40k starting, deferred loans for another six months after the six month grace they give you after graduation, used that time to build up a small cushion, and since then have paid about $800 a month. Thats how you will do it. It will seem like a lot, you will not live well, hell you will not have savings, but you will pay back over time.

nonprofit-prophet
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Re: Financial Aid: How do poor people pay for law school?

Postby nonprofit-prophet » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:40 pm

cowgirl_bebop wrote:
nonprofit-prophet wrote:
cowgirl_bebop wrote:
nonprofit-prophet wrote:I think the "take out loans" answer is somewhat simplistic. In looking at my own options, I noticed that the school I'll likely go to has a somewhat unrealistic COA. Definitely not enough for food. At that point, what do poor people do? Do they take on more credit card debt, since they can't get federal loans in excess of the COA? Both my parents are broke and I am NOT listed as a dependent of theirs. I have a fairly well paying job (given my sector), but live in an expensive city, so I'll have 5-7 grand max saved up for LS, but I still need to buy a car. So how do poor people do it?


Try to get more scholarship money out of your school. Many schools also have excess grant money they can give to students who are the most needy. Some schools also let you increase your allotted COA for certain things, such as living or computer expenses. Make the most of that. If you cannot work, try to do a small side hustle to bring in some cash. Answer a Craigslist ad to help someone move on the weekend or clean up a house. If you have any marketable skills (such as doing hair or any trade skills), offer your services.

I am going to be in a similar situation. I need to find a way to cover food, clothing, housing, and other expenses, and federal loans my not be enough. Im trying to stick to small loans of about $10K-$15K a year and make up the rest with savings and/or a side hustle. Private loans are not an option and I also cannot rely on financial contributions from my family. I will most likely end up in a city where I dont need a car, so that is working in my favor.

Good luck!!



wow small loans of 15k? Given my school's COA, I'd be paying nearly 50k out of pocket (probably more) if I did the same thing. The only issue with scholarships is that they reduce your school's COA estimate for you, so the issue still stands: if the initial COA is lowballed, you still need to figure out an extra source of money. I guess odd jobs may be a way to make up the extra cash. Is there work-study in law school?


Your school should calculate your COA based on not only your tuition, but also on COL, transportation, and incidentals. So long as you economize, you should be able to live comfortably enough to get by within that limit. They calculate what you should be spending on housing, health insurance, transportation, books, etc. How much do you anticipate spending outside of that, and on what?



Yea the COA includes cost of living. Tuition is 45k and total COA is 61k. That leaves 15k for books, food, rent, utilities, phone bill, credit card bill, and miscellaneous expenses. Rent and utilities should eat up nearly 9k of that. 1.5k will go to books for the year and a few hundred for transportation. that leaves a little under 4k for food for the entire year. That's about 10 bucks a day for food; not very much. I didn't take into account miscellaneous expenses, but emergencies do arise. With additional costs, the daily food budget probably drops to 8 ish.

I spoke with a few of my friends that attend the same school and they said their parents give them food money.




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