Introduction to the DISB College Budget Calculator
How much money do you need to cover the total cost of attendance to a university, college, or vocational program? Do you really need student loans to attend a particular school? How do you know which financial aid award package is best?
Figuring out how to pay for higher education is the first serious decision most young people will make in their lives. The Student Loan Ombudsman Office in the Department of Insurance, Securities, and Banking (DISB) has created the DISB College Budget Calculator to aid you in answering these and other questions.
The DISB College Budget Calculator is designed to help students and families identify their expenses and funding sources for a year of college or vocational school as well as to determine whether a balance remains after accounting for scholarships and grants. Students can determine whether the acceptance of federal student loans is necessary to cover the costs of attendance.
DISB College Budget Calculator User Manual
It is particularly important to understand where your money is going and how it is being spent. This will help you make informed decisions about the necessity of federal student loans as you plan your educational future. In addition to tuition, housing, and meal plans, other individual needs will factor into calculating your expenses and whether you need to accept federal student loans or select one school over another based on the total costs associated with attendance.
Grab your financial aid award letter or look up the costs associated with attending a school or vocational program and enter those costs into the DISB College Budget Calculator per semester as well as your known funding sources. By going through this process, you will gain vital insight into your financial position. Understanding your financial position before you go to school will assist you in protecting your financial interests and hopefully allow you to complete college with minimal or no student loan debt.
Let’s get started:
- As you input your data, use only the blue fields for your amounts.
- Input the Student Loan Borrower Expenses of tuition, fees, housing, meal plan, and transportation by semester.
- Include additional costs based on your lifestyle such as textbooks hygiene, or leisure activities. Remember, this number should reflect your needs by semester (approximately four months).
- Leave a $0 for cells that you are not included in your budget.
- Input Grants and Scholarship award amounts.
- The calculator will determine your balance after the two categories have been put into the correct cells. If you have a balance, first consider reducing your additional costs to determine if it will have a positive impact on your total cost. Be realistic in your expectations.
- If you are unable to reduce the additional costs, input your Available Federal Student Loan amounts. A good rule to remember with loans is to borrow what you need as the money must be repaid with interest.
Note: If you need some, but not all, of the federal student loan proceeds offered, ask your financial aid office to reduce the unsubsidized loan. Unsubsidized loans incur interest from acceptance and the borrower is responsible to pay that interest. In contrast, the federal government will pay the interest on the subsidized loans while the borrower is still in school making it the better and least costly option.
- Look at the middle column for the College Budget Calculator results. A red balance means you will owe the institution money at the end of the semester. A green balance means you may receive a refund at the end of the semester depending on the rules governing the use of certain grant and scholarship dollars. Your school’s financial aid office will advise you on how excess funds can be used or possibly refunded to the student to assist with living expenses, the cost of text books and other related educational expenses.