What to Use FAFSA Money For

by Leyla Norman; Updated September 26, 2017

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is used to get grants and loans from the federal government to attend college. It is also used by many other scholarship and grant-giving organizations to determine eligibility for their programs. The money you get from filling out and submitting the FAFSA, whether it is in the form of loans or scholarships, should be used for educational purposes.

Tuition and Fees

Your FAFSA money should first and foremost go toward paying your tuition and fees. Getting money to pay these expenses is the main reason for submitting the FAFSA. The money you get from the FAFSA will go to a university and be used by that university to pay your expenses. If there is leftover money, you may receive it in the form of a reimbursement check or a deposit into your bank account.

Books and Supplies

After tuition and fees, any remaining money should go toward paying for books and supplies needed for your courses. Some supplies might include a computer to do your school work, pens, paper, folders and calculators. To make your book money stretch further, purchase used books from students who have just completed a course you are about to take or buy them from the school’s bookstore. You may also be able to find used ones in online auctions or book-selling sites for less than you would pay for them new. Ensure you get the right edition of any book you buy. It is usually best to wait until the first day of class when you get your syllabus to ensure you buy the right book. Teachers may also change the books they use from semester to semester, so buying one from a student who just took a course you are enrolled in may not always work.

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Living Expenses

If you get a refund from any of your FAFSA money from your college, you can also use it to pay your rent for a couple of months, pay for gas to get back and forth to school or pay utility bills for a while. These expenses are ones that have to be met to go to college so they can qualify as educational expenses. Keep receipts for anything you purchase with your FAFSA money so you can account for it if you need to at a later date.

What Not to Buy

A new stereo, for instance, is not necessary for your classes. Do not purchase items you cannot justify as educational expenses. FAFSA money is not just a free handout of money to use however you want. It is given to those who need the money to help pay for college.

About the Author

Leyla Norman has been a writer since 2008 and is a certified English as a second language teacher. She also has a master's degree in development studies and a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology.

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