Have you checked your bank account recently? If so, you may have noticed we started disbursing financial aid last week. We recommend you don’t spend it all at one place! Here are some helpful guidelines on what financial aid can, and cannot be used for. 

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Room and Board? Yes! Maybe you recently moved off campus so you are relying on this money to pay your bills. The financial aid refund can be used to pay your housing (on or off campus living), utilities, renters insurance, meal plan, and any other living necessities. You may also use your refund to pay your fraternity or sorority bill. If you’re paying your bills on a monthly basis, we recommend you place the refund in a savings account, and withdraw the monthly amounts as needed. You don’t want to be short on rent money come May. The financial aid you receive is intended to last the entire semester, and if you've maxed out all of your options, we are unable to award additional funds.

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Tuition & Fees? Yes! This one might be a no brainer, but this is typically the first thing covered with your financial aid. Since financial aid disburses over the Ubill first, it covers any current charges, like tuition/fees, books (if you charged them to your Ubill), dorm/meal plan charges, unpaid parking tickets (you know who you are), and potential course fees. 

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Concert Tickets? No. We know you’ve been waiting all year for your favorite artist to go on tour again AND they're going to be at Coachella, but financial aid shouldn’t be used for entertainment purposes. We hate to sound like huge fun haters, but you’ll thank us later when you make the smart decision to buy those tickets with money from your part time job instead. For many students, their financial aid refund may be partly consisting of student loans. It's like you're paying interest on materialistic items or experiences; not a good move.

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Transportation & Childcare Expenses? Yes! Anticipated transportation and child care expenses can be covered by your financial aid. If you have commuting costs that are expensive, you may look into completing a cost of attendance adjustment form that is completed through our main financial aid office. However, financial aid is not meant to cover the purchase of a vehicle, auto loan payments, insurance, license/registration and general maintenance. We can also consider any weekly childcare expenses through your childcare provider.

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Spring Break Trip to South Padre? No. Again we hate to be the fun haters here, but financial aid should not be used to fund any extracurricular trips outside of study abroad experiences. Now would be a good time to see if you can save a little extra money, or pick up more hours at your job to help pay for a trip come March. You know, the responsible adult way to do Spring break!

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New Wardrobe? Tempting…but no. If you have some extra cash or gift cards leftover from the holiday season, consider using those instead. New clothes and/or shoes can really eat into your budget if you’re not careful. If that was you last semester, make sure to set a monthly budget for clothes and entertainment so you can monitor your own spending habits and achieve your savings goals quicker.

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Books & Supplies? Yes. Students can purchase course materials, school and art supplies, calculators, and even laptops using their U-Bill both in-store and online. Your financial aid refund can also be used to buy textbooks outside of the University after the money is in your bank account. If you need more money for a laptop purchase and you've already utilized all options for financial aid, you may look into a cost of attendance adjustment.

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These are just a few guidelines to help you get off on the right foot this semester. If you need help budgeting your financial aid refund, you can meet one on one with one of our advisers through ISUappointments (use the Budgeting/Credit appointment type). Wishing all students a great and fiscally responsible 2019!