Budgeting on financial aid is very different from real-world budgeting.  Instead of using your income to determine what you can spend, you must add up what you will spend to determine how much income (financial aid) you will need.

You can use the Cost of Attendance budget to get a rough idea of the maximum you can safely spend on living expenses for the upcoming year.  But before you request loans, use our Budget worksheet to break down your living expenses and determine how much you actually need to borrow.  Try to do this before you are locked into rent.

We also suggest that you project your borrowing over four years and visit www.finaid.org/calculators and use their loan calculator to help you estimate your future repayment amounts.

Suggestions for Living Within The Cost-of-Attendance Budget:

While the living allowances in the budgets represent moderate medical student costs, many of our students tell us they live on less than we allow.  The living expenses portion of the Cost of Attendance Budget is based on the following maximum figures:


Utilities (including renter’s insurance)$131
Food and household supplies$300
Personal/miscellaneous expenses


The Financial Aid Office will hold a “Money Talks” Budgeting seminar for first-year students in October.  We strongly suggest that all students who are borrowing money for living expenses attend this seminar.

Incoming students should bring enough money with them to last until mid-August. Even if you are expecting financial aid, you should bring enough money with you to cover “setting up” expenses such as security deposits, utility connection charges, first rent payment, purchase of initial household supplies and food.  Financial aid for fall living expenses may not be available until a week or two after the tuition due date in August.

Money management can be tricky for financial aid recipients, who receive their funds in one lump sum at the beginning of each semester.  Disbursements will always occur in August and January for 1st and 4th year students, and August and February for 2nd and 3rd year students.  It is important to hold back money for expenses that occur less frequently than monthly.  For example, second-years will need to set aside money to pay for the USMLE Step 1 and third-years will need to pay for Step 2 CK and Step 2 CS.  Please check with Student Affairs for the timing of registration for these exams.

Fourth-year students need to budget for interview costs and travel to take Step 2 CS.  Also, although your loan period ends in May, your money may need to stretch well beyond graduation as you may not receive your first residency pay until mid-July.

All students should have either a small emergency fund or unconditional family assistance in case of emergency.  We have interest-free emergency loans available in our office, but you must be able to come in-person during business hours.

Money-management counseling is available! Your assigned financial aid counselor will help you develop a budget and identify discretionary costs that can be reduced so that you can live within your resources.  If you find that you can live on less than what you have borrowed, talk with your counselor about reducing your loans, especially if you have unsubsidized or Graduate PLUS loans.



Other worksheets:

Budget worksheet copy (PDF for those without Excel)

Quick Budget Worksheet (if your resources are relatively fixed – not borrowing loans)