Budgeting In Grad School | 10.15.09

Posted in Graduate Loans, Student Credit, Student Loans By Student Loan Network Staff

Budgets; you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. I hate budgets just as much as the next person, but I have realized that having one makes my life a lot easier. By the time you make the decision to pursue grad school chances are you will be completely on your own financially. Whether you decide to go to school full time or part time while you work, paying for grad school will take a certain amount of financial discipline and budgeting. However, living within your means does not have to be a drag. You can successfully pay for grad school without being strapped for cash.

Here are some tips for creating a budget that works for your lifestyle:

1: Determine your monthly income and your monthly expenses.
This is the most important step to creating a budget. The amount of money you bring home on a monthly basis is what you have to work with. Make sure your expenses do not exceed you income. If you are going to school part time and working full time this will probably be a little bit easier for you. If you are living off of savings, determine how much you have for each month. Be sure to factor in all expenses including rent, car payments, insurance, groceries etc.

2: Take out loans to pay your tuition and other school expenses.
As a grad student you have plenty of loan options. The Graduate Stafford Loan has a low fixed interest rate and does not require a credit check. The Graduate PLUS Loan is a low, fixed interest rate student loan that is based on your credit. It allows you to borrow up to the total cost of your education minus any other aid you receive. Finally, there are other private loans that can help you cover any and all of your school expenses. Make sure you include all loan funds and tuition payments in your monthly income and expenses. GradLoans.com can help you apply for and secure all of the loans you need.

3: Defer undergraduate loans until your graduate degree is complete. Unless you have the money to start paying your loans back while you are in grad school you might as well wait. Do not kill yourself trying to pay off these loans until you are working full-time and have more flexibility.

4: Use a free online budgeting tool like Mint.com.
The days of scratching numbers on a piece of paper are over. This tool allows you to see all of your accounts, including your student loans, aggregated together. It will allow you to see where you spend the most money and where you might be able to cut back.

5: Find a credit card with good rewards.
Sometimes using a credit card to make all of your purchases can be beneficial if you pay it off every month and you get rewards points. I have a credit card that awards one point for every dollar spent. Usually I trade in my points for Target gift cards. Since I spend a lot of money there anyway it gives me a little extra wiggle room in my budget.
ScholarshipPoints code: BUDGETGRAD

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97 Responses to “Budgeting In Grad School”

  1. LTrollinger says on March 18, 2010 at 1:01 am:

    Rewards credit cards are a great way to budget. You can earn money back on something that you were going to buy anyway.

    Reply To This Comment
  2. Kim says on December 29, 2009 at 2:55 pm:

    I’ll have to reread it when i start grad school.

    Reply To This Comment
  3. tina says on December 28, 2009 at 3:41 pm:


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  4. hana says on December 23, 2009 at 11:17 pm:

    thanks for the info. hopefully, i can catch some scholarships so i won’t be be needing lots of loans. and yes, graduate finance definitely has to be planned years ahead

    Reply To This Comment
  5. Maryellen Campbell says on December 23, 2009 at 5:56 pm:

    so true

    Reply To This Comment
  6. Bryan says on December 21, 2009 at 8:11 pm:

    wow thanks for the info on how to sustain and maintain a good profitable budget =)

    Reply To This Comment
  7. Allison Roberts says on December 21, 2009 at 10:26 am:

    Very informative

    Reply To This Comment
  8. Claire C. says on December 20, 2009 at 3:44 pm:

    thanks so much, good info

    Reply To This Comment
  9. tiesha says on December 20, 2009 at 12:15 pm:

    thanks for the help.

    Reply To This Comment
  10. tiesha says on December 20, 2009 at 12:14 pm:

    thanks for the help. So is it possible to get a credit card with out having credit.

    Reply To This Comment
  11. amine says on December 19, 2009 at 6:05 am:


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  12. asnardo says on December 19, 2009 at 12:23 am:

    that information was helpful for see wha are going to be my steps for my finalcial decicion

    Reply To This Comment
  13. susana says on December 18, 2009 at 9:28 pm:

    loans are necessary only in emergencies

    Reply To This Comment
  14. Adebisi says on December 17, 2009 at 9:53 am:

    with this information, going to graduate school would be easy financially

    Reply To This Comment
  15. krista says on December 15, 2009 at 6:56 pm:

    very helpful, thank you

    Reply To This Comment
  16. Christina says on December 15, 2009 at 3:44 pm:

    Having a credit card can be useful, but wouldn’t haven’t one with rewards program push you to buy unnecessary purchases because you wanted the reward points? Unnecessary purchases would mean taking out unnecessary expenses for things that could be more essential.

    Reply To This Comment
  17. clodey says on December 14, 2009 at 11:15 pm:

    Thanks so much for the tips! I know I definitely need to work on my budgeting and this helped so much.

    Reply To This Comment
  18. brittany says on December 10, 2009 at 5:53 pm:

    sounds like a smart idea

    Reply To This Comment
  19. Rebecca says on December 10, 2009 at 2:06 pm:

    Very helpful information!

    Reply To This Comment
  20. Terry says on December 10, 2009 at 1:20 pm:

    Very good information and I will start on budgeting while I continue graduate school, thanks!

    Reply To This Comment
  21. BOBBIE says on December 10, 2009 at 5:36 am:


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  22. Momof 5 says on December 9, 2009 at 5:12 pm:

    Always great advice! It’s a little more difficult when you have a few more individuals drawing on your budget. :)

    Reply To This Comment

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