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Financial Aid Advice/Help?!?

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I'm just wondering if anyone out there currently in PA school or getting ready to attend has advice about financial aid? I start at a public institution in January and one of my main reasons for not going the "private" route was because of the cost of attendance (COA.) I wanted to be "smarter" financially than I was in my undergraduate career and I've been trying to crunch my expenses, but it seems like there won't be enough money. Let me break down my costs and maybe someone out there will have advice!


(Fees/Costs are for the spring semester only: Jan-May (so 5 months))


Tuition/Fees/Books: $7,173

Medical Equipment: $900

Rent: $1700

Utilities: $610

Car Payment: $1280

Car Insurance: $850

Cell Phone: $490

Gas: $300

Food: $500

Total: $13,803 - COA $13,302 = -$501

I know that my car pmt and insurance are killing me, but I wrecked my car a year ago and had no choice but to get a new one. And unfortunately my insurance is sky high due to my accident. I got a newer car solely for the reason of needing a reliable car that wouldn't need maintenance all the time (I had that issue as a undergrad.) I also had my insurance agent search for lower rates, but he said I'm stuck based on my previous driving record. I'm hoping that my medical equipment fees are less than $900, but I'm not sure what to expect in terms of those items. I'm looking at changing to a family cell plan, so that may lower those costs by $20 or so a month. I've estimated (at best) my gas and food, but I have a feeling it's on the low end... And clearly, there is no room for anything "extra." I have been working to pay off all credit card debt before entering school, so with that and the cost of my pre-reqs my savings are limited. I have enough to possibly help me with things like my rent down payment, equipment fees, and buying a laptop since I don't currently have one.


That's my situation in a nutshell. I know that in the long haul, I'll be better off because my debt will be lower than most PA students, but I guess I just wasn't aware that you couldn't borrow more than your cost of attendance as the school has estimated it. My old roommate was a PA and she was paying her mortgage with her PA school loans, so I have no idea how she was able to do that. I definitely don't want to take out more than needed, but it seems like I'll be scraping by with no extra money for unexpected expenses (prescriptions, association dues, etc.)


If there's anyone out there who's found a way to combat the estimated Cost of Attendance at an institution or who knows where other types of loans that do not go through the school might be available, please share below. And god bless anyone out there who is going to school with a family or children. I have no idea how you're doing it!

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I realize the following suggestions will only slightly help you and hopefully others will contribute ideas that go further. The first item that jumped at me was you are paying as much for you phone as you nutritional intake. Seriously? Get you a magicjack ($20 a year) or a pay for you minutes as you go phone. Do you think you need to talk that much and will you have that kind of time now? Also, you might cut down the price of equipment if you shop on here under "Textbook & Medical Equipment for Sale". Get an excellent stethoscope, but go cheap on the rest. Try and shave cost on the books too.

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I dont know about your school but we are able to get an increase in our budget to cover car insurance. Most education loans through banks nowadays require the loans to be certified by the shcool.....this means you still wont be able to borrow over the cost of attendance....the only thing that you may be able to do is get a private loan. Im guessing that cellphone bill is due to multiple people in the household (if its just you thats insane as well), if its multiple people then a family plan may be better and look to see if your school (most do) have discounts for various service providers. Its usually not much but every little bit helps. At my program theres no way to get a budget increase for anything else you got going there....especially that car payment BUT if it breaks down they can do an increase for the cost of repairs.


Check with your fin aid counselor (you can find out who that is now) and see what the exceptions rates for a budget increase

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Check out pageplus wireless. You can go through http://www.kittywireless.com- they are really great. This company runs on verizon phones and the verizon network, and you can get unlimited talk and text for $45 a month per phone (with limited data usage). Or you can get 1200 minutes, 3000 texts, and 100 MB data for $30 a month per phone. I am not sure if that is cheaper for you or not- depends on how many people you are paying for. I had magicjack and it broke in 2 months (in its defense I had it running through my laptop and would unplug it and plug it back in a little too frequently). If you have it plugged in in a stationary place it would probably work well a lot longer than that. Its $40 the first time you get it though- then $20 a year after that. Wow- that is some car payment. There are reliable used cars out there, but I'm guessing since you bought new that you don't have much/any equity in your car that you could get out of it if you sold and downgraded. Car insurance goes down with less expensive cars too- even if you have a poor history. I recommend Toyota Corolla if you want the cheapest price, gas, and insurance- with reliability. Your old roommate probably didn't pay enough for a second mortgage on her car payment....and mortgages are generally less expensive than rent in any given area. Have you thought about renting a smaller/less expensive place? I have no idea where you live so maybe that is a not an expensive place in your area. How many people are you supporting? $100 a month for food is nothing in my family- there are 4 of us and it is more like $100 a week at least.... You can try calling around to different car insurance companies too. I did that this past year and managed to save about $100 a year on that (my record is good though).

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