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Budgeting and Borrowing

Student loans can be an excellent resource to help finance your college education. Earning a degree is a solid long-term investment, and responsible borrowing can help you reach that goal.

It’s important to consider all of your needs and options when taking out a loan. Careful budgeting can help you reduce the amount you might need to borrow and pay back later.

Review our loan guides to learn how to accept or decline your UNC loan offers.

Creating a Budget for the Academic Year

Creating a budget for each semester or academic year can help you track and manage your spending.  It can also help determine how much you need to borrow for college.

Our estimate for cost of attendance is exactly that: an estimate. Your actual costs can vary quite a bit, depending on where you decide to live, how you budget for meals, and how much you spend on travel. You should use it as a starting point for your own budget, thinking carefully about your actual expenses and any resources you have to pay for them.

We recommend only borrowing what you know you’ll need. If you initially borrow only part of your loan and have remaining loan eligibility, you can always request the full amount later in the academic year by contacting our office.

Download our UNC Budget Sheet (Excel) to see how you can balance college expenses and minimize borrowing.

Repayment Options

It’s important to keep up with your student loan balances and your repayment options before you graduate. The Federal Student Loans website can help you keep track of your federal loan balances and review your repayment plans.

Visit their online Repayment Estimator to see where you stand with federal loan balances.

Outside Resources

  • The Federal Student Aid website offers a guide to the basics of college budgeting.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a variety of resources to help you consider aid offers, think about loan repayment plans, and create a responsible college budget.
  • Financial Aid Awareness Counseling at studentloans.gov gives great information on budgeting and on average salaries by field of study.  As a rule of thumb, try not to borrow more than your expected starting annual salary. You can see average starting salaries data at Salary.com
  • FinAid.org has helpful calculators for thinking about tuition, loans, and savings goals.

If you have any questions about your loan offer or your responsibilities as a borrower, you’re welcome to come see us. You can also email our loan experts with questions.

You can also reach our Client Services team with questions about financial aid. We’re here to help!

aidinfo@unc.edu  |  919.962.8396  |  111 Pettigrew Hall