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Graduate student loans? Halp!

Hey folks, here you see me trying to figure out all this newfangled online registration and course catalog and bursary calendar shit like the old sea harpy that I am:


I’m 98% sure I will work through all the websites and get comfortable with it before long, but I would appreciate input on one thing in particular. My financial aid award consists entirely of student loans (“Congratulations” the award letter said. Ok sure!), some unsubsidized Stafford and some Graduate PLUS. Either one is a fair bit more than I actually need for tuition/fees/materials (i.e. let’s say my actual tuition and fees for the year are $4,000 plus required books; the offered amount is $20,000 in Stafford and $12,000 in PLUS, and they can be accepted separately AND in full or part).

1) The interest rate on the Stafford loan is 6% vs 7% for PLUS, and the loan fee is lower too. Is there any other difference that would make it a better idea to accept one type rather than the other?


2) Is there a reason to accept more than needed for tuition/fees/materials (that is to say, by more than a small margin of error in case books are unexpectedly more expensive than I’m estimating)? I work full time so it’s not like in undergrad where the excess of my loans went toward living expenses. I won’t lie, it would be nice to be able to quit my Saturday job so I’m only working 5 days a week. And I plan to use part of the loan to upgrade my home computer as my course is completely online (subquestion: can I use student loans to pay my internet bill if I’m also using it for personal, non-course internetting?) But I don’t want to add to my overall student loan balance (I’m still paying on one undergrad loan) unnecessarily.

3) I’m 36 when will I have this figured out?

I’m sure there’s something I’m not thinking of but I’m feeling a little overwhelmed, thanks in advance for any advice or commiseration!

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