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Borrowing Responsibly

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As you determine the level of debt that is manageable for you to take on, review your budget needs carefully. Financial Aid counselors are available to assist you with budgeting and to answer your questions about other concerns relating to financial assistance. See below a series of tips offering insight about how best to build and maintain your budget. 

Estimate Your Expenses

Making responsible borrowing choices requires knowing the total cost of your education and a reasonable estimate of the expenses you are likely to incur while you are in school. The total cost of your education is made up of direct costs and indirect costs for one academic year. Direct costs are those associated with your enrollment in a graduate division or professional school (e.g., tuition and lab fees). Indirect costs are those expenses necessary to maintain a “modest but adequate” standard of living while attending school.

The majority of indirect costs are covered under the living expenses portion of the total cost of attendance. However if your indirect costs exceed the allowance in the cost of attendance, you will need to adjust other expenses downward to meet your indirect costs.

Create a Budget

In order to help you determine your costs, we recommend that you use the loan calculator in the section below to estimate your monthly student loan payment. Multiply your total monthly expenses in the calculator by the number of months you will attend school, and then add tuition costs. Afterwards, compare this budget to UChicago’s standard living expenses. You must adjust your living expenses to be equal to or below the standard living expenses.

Do your total living expenses for the enrollment period exceed the standard living expenses? If so, here are your two options:

  • You must find ways to reduce your expenses. Please refer back to our suggestions on options for reducing your costs.
  • Determine if it is possible to adjust your cost of attendance. Please talk with a counselor in the Graduate Financial Aid Office in order to find out if you have additional expenses (e.g., medical or dental) that might be covered by an adjustment to your cost of attendance.

Calculate Your Monthly Loan Payments

We encourage you to use a loan repayment calculator to calculate what you will need to earn in order to cover your student loan debt. A Graduate Financial Aid officer will cover loan repayment information in much greater detail during your loan exit counseling session.

Borrow Responsibly

Making the decision to borrow money to finance your education represents a serious investment in your future. Such a commitment requires careful considering the future implications of your current financial decisions. You may need to commit a significant portion of your future salary to achieve your current educational objectives. Handling this long-term financial obligation can be made easier by using sound debt-management practices—both while you are in school and after you graduate. We encourage you to calculate how much you will need to earn in order to cover your student loan debt. 

Reduce Your Costs

The total cost of your education is made up of direct costs and indirect costs for one academic year. Direct costs are those associated with your enrollment in a graduate division or professional school (e.g., tuition and lab fees). Indirect costs are those expenses necessary to maintain a “modest but adequate” standard of living while attending school. The majority of indirect costs are covered under the living expenses portion of the total COA. However if your indirect costs exceed the allowance in the cost of attendance, you will need to adjust other expenses downward to meet your indirect costs.

Making responsible borrowing choices requires having an overall knowledge of the total cost of your education and making reasonable estimations of the expenses you are likely to incur while you are in school.The following list contains some tips for reducing these costs. 

  • Take public transportation instead of owning a car or, better yet, rent an apartment near campus so you can bike or walk to class. You will save on parking, gas, repair, and insurance.
  • Eliminate outstanding credit card debt before coming to school. We are unable to increase your cost of attendance to accommodate this debt.
  • Instead of a credit card, get an ATM debit card so as to deduct the money automatically from your checking account.
  • Cut monthly rent expenses. Share living expenses with a roommate or find an apartment that rents for less than the $970 rent allowance.
  • Go without amenities such as cable television, pagers, and cell phones, or reduce service.
  • Buy previously owned instead of new furniture.
  • Delay pet ownership. In addition to food and health care, you often must pay more for an apartment that allows pets.
  • Once you have settled into an apartment, try not to move again. Before occupying a new apartment you often must pay a first and last month’s rent plus security deposit, and there are many expenses associated with moving.
  • Take advantage of the array of free and inexpensive entertainment available on campus (e.g., plays, concerts, clubs, gyms, Doc Films).
  • Buy used books whenever possible or borrow books from friends or a library.
  • Dine out in restaurants as seldom as possible.
  • Use gifts and tax refunds to help pay school expenses.

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