Financial aid and a college food budget | 02.02.10

Posted in Financial Aid, Scholarships, Stafford Loan By Student Loan Network Staff

FoodToday in our Financial Aid Forum I received the following question:

Next year as a sophomore our son will not have a meal plan at the college.
How much do you budget for apartment cooking?
How do you come up with a budget?

This is a great question that probably affects a lot of students. If you live on a college campus you probably have a meal plan which you pay for as part of your room and board fees. However, if you live off campus you are probably responsible for buying your own food and cooling for yourself. This could get expensive if not managed properly so it is important to setup a strict budget for yourself.

My suggestion would be to find out how much the meal plan at your school costs and use that as a guideline. Divide that number by the number of weeks you will be away at school and living on your own. That will give you your approximate weekly budget. Do a test shopping week to see if your weekly budget is too much or not enough and adjust as you see fit. Also, learn how to be a coupon clipper and stock up on items when they are on sale. Doing these two things can save you a ton of money in the long run.

The good thing is that both leftover Stafford loan funds,  private student loan funds and most scholarships can be used towards any education-related expense including food.

Does anyone else who has been there have other ideas on this topic?

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175 Responses to “Financial aid and a college food budget”

  1. Jessica says on February 19, 2010 at 3:02 pm:

    very interesting

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  2. K R says on February 19, 2010 at 1:04 am:

    That's interesting, I didn't know you could use scholarships for food. Investigating grocery stores may help with costs, some allow you to double or even tripple the value of your coupon.

    Reply To This Comment
  3. Nadeje says on February 18, 2010 at 10:05 pm:

    This article has really good information.

    Reply To This Comment
  4. matt says on February 17, 2010 at 11:20 pm:

    I might try a modified plan where I can get hot meals from my meal plan and buy food like breakfast items and eat in my room.

    Reply To This Comment
  5. april says on February 17, 2010 at 8:49 pm:

    Stick with fruits and veggies and it can stay inexpensive. Especially if you shop at ALDI's!

    Reply To This Comment
  6. Andrew says on February 17, 2010 at 11:04 am:

    This is what I have been looking for! my parents think that I will go money crazy if I have tp live on my own, but this will tell them.

    Reply To This Comment
  7. Wesley says on February 16, 2010 at 10:57 pm:

    This is something very important to consider when leaving for university :D

    Reply To This Comment
  8. R says on February 16, 2010 at 5:38 pm:

    good to know, thank you

    Reply To This Comment
  9. R says on February 16, 2010 at 5:37 pm:

    well, this is good to know, thank you

    Reply To This Comment
  10. Sam says on February 16, 2010 at 9:28 am:

    very interesting

    Reply To This Comment
  11. Maggie says on February 15, 2010 at 2:58 pm:

    wow i learned so much from this article

    Reply To This Comment
  12. stephanie says on February 15, 2010 at 8:59 am:

    budgeting is definitely a good idea with everything including food

    Reply To This Comment
  13. Karina says on February 15, 2010 at 2:41 am:

    This article is very well written because regardless if a student lives on or off campus learning to be on a budget will be a great for their future.

    Reply To This Comment
  14. DeVon says on February 15, 2010 at 1:39 am:

    Very good info

    Reply To This Comment
  15. vincent says on February 14, 2010 at 11:30 pm:

    figure out a meal plan for a month. Figure out the cost and try that as a budget. You can even do this while at home. I am trying this out for a month now, to see what I can live on.

    Reply To This Comment
  16. sheria says on February 14, 2010 at 10:42 pm:

    food stamps help, if you are a student with an off campus residency and a bill u are automatically eligible!

    Reply To This Comment
  17. Cell says on February 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm:

    I think my college’s meal plan is much more expensive than what I pay for groceries living off campus. And I think I buy better food, too.

    Reply To This Comment
  18. heather says on February 13, 2010 at 3:49 pm:

    Thanks for the coupon tip! I didn’t know the numbers corresponded like that!

    Reply To This Comment
  19. Maia says on February 13, 2010 at 2:21 pm:

    This is very informative. However, there are colleges that offer meal plans as part of their tuition for all four years. I’m going to one of these, and I think that it’s a lot more practical than having students make their own meals. It’s healthier, and it gives students more time and money and way less stress.

    Reply To This Comment
  20. Brittni says on February 12, 2010 at 11:36 pm:

    Meal plans to me are an extra expense so if you don’t need one, don’tget one. :)

    Reply To This Comment
  21. Cooper says on February 12, 2010 at 4:28 pm:

    This is a very good article as it is very true. In fact out today that 3 instead of just 2 of the 5 schools I’m applying to do not have a meal plan, so this is necessary for a student.

    Schools WITH Mealplan : UCF, Roosevelt U

    Schools WITHOUT Mealplan : Cirlce in the Square, AMDA, UARTS

    Reply To This Comment
  22. Cassie says on February 12, 2010 at 3:55 pm:

    Food stamps help out alot too. If you dont have money for food try applying.

    Reply To This Comment
  23. Markie says on February 11, 2010 at 6:49 pm:

    Woot coupons! And I’ll tell you a secret. Every coupon has a number on it beneath the barcode that corresponds to the number on the product it’s used for. But some companies use the same number for different products, so say if you have a coupon for Bounty napkins, you might be able to use that coupon on the Bounty paper towels. ;)

    Reply To This Comment
  24. Romeo Santana says on February 11, 2010 at 6:49 pm:

    This info is very helpful and very important especially to freshmen entering college

    Reply To This Comment
  25. Andrew says on February 11, 2010 at 6:41 pm:

    Good idea!

    Reply To This Comment

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