So what realistically are we going to have to live on, per month (if we take the full loan amount available), keeping in mind potential excess book money, etc? And what methods did previous students use to make sure that they were budgeting it effectively, taking into account potential problems/unexpected costs, etc?
I just ask because I have a few costs that other students may not (foremost a freakin' wedding but also car payment/insurance, renters' insurance, etc), so I'm trying to get a good idea of how much belt-tightening will be necessary.
P.S. To recap my previous posts on this subject, now that we're getting closer to this being an actuality:
Yeah, room/board + personal/misc = $17k together. So unless I'm missing something, that's kind of like receiving approximately $24k gross income before taxes...and since this is only intended to last the 9 months of school, we can say it's really the equivalent of more than $32k/yr, or about $1,888/mo.
In Pittsburgh I can live on $33k very comfortably, and that includes having a good deal of debt already. According to the COL Comparison Calculator, "A salary of $33,000 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania could decrease to $31,335 in St. Louis, Missouri." And, once again, Pittsburgh is already an unbelievably easy place to stay afloat. And St. Louis is...easier.
So when COL is taken into account, in effect I am actually getting a "raise" of about $1k/yr gross from the school/government.
That's how I like to rationalize it to myself anyway.
I think that my view is a little skewed because taxes in my city and county are higher than the national averages, but yes...I actually take home 74.3% of my gross income. Extrapolated to the situation of receiving an untaxed $17k, that would be equivalent to making $22,863 before taxes for me. So my math was a little off, but not by that far.
Divided by 9 (months of school) and multiplied by 12 (months in a year), to me that living stipend is essentially equivalent to receiving a $30,484 yearly salary. That's peanuts compared to what a lot of people make, but it's certainly not a pittance. And St. Louis is, amazingly, 5% cheaper than the already stupid-cheap Pittsburgh -- so in "Pittsburgh dollars," that $30.5k comes out to $32,103. In other words, at the (perfectly comfortable) salary that I have now, I will be taking a $897 yearly pay cut.
Am I basically right about this, or am I missing some obvious key? It seems insane that I should be able to maintain my current lifestyle while living entirely on loans in school, but that's what these stats are telling me.