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Determining Your Budget

In determining your budget, a good place to start is to look at what it costs to live on campus for the entire school year. It is important before you start looking to think about what a realistic budget is and how much you are comfortable paying.

Click on each link below to learn more:

Do the Math: Monthly Goal for Off-Campus Living Expenses

Since most leases are based on the calendar year rather than the academic year, figuring out your off-campus living expenses is broken down in the following way:

monthly expenses

Upfront Costs

Another question you might be asking is, How much am I going to have to pay to sign the lease on my new apartment? You can expect to have to pay at least two months’ rent upfront to secure your apartment. Each landlord has different policies and in those cases you could pay up to three months’ rent to move into your new apartment.

  • FIRST MONTH’S RENT The rent for the first month of tenancy
  • LAST MONTH’S RENT The rent for the last month of tenancy
  • SECURITY DEPOSIT Money that protects landlords against damage beyond normal wear and tear. It provides a remedy for unpaid rent and pays for cleanup of the rental if necessary.


Students are often asked to have a co-signor or guarantor. This is someone who is willing to co-sign on the lease or guarantee that should you not be able to pay for the rent for any reason, they are willing to do so. Typically this is a parent or guardian.

In the case when a student does not have someone to co-sign on his or her lease, it is not uncommon for the landlord to ask for the last month’s rent or an additional month’s rent for the security deposit.


When you’re looking at an apartment, be sure to ask what utilities are included – heat, hot water, electricity.

Factors that determine the amount of rent that is paid include the following:

  • In general, the closer the unit is to campus, the more expensive it will be.
  • In general, the larger the unit, the more expensive it will be.
  • In general, furnished units are more expensive than unfurnished apartments.
  • In general, the more utilities included in the rent, the more expensive the rent will be.

Creating a Monthly Budget

Creating a budget is critical if you are going to be living off campus. Working through this process will help you identify and estimate the costs of living on your own.

Use the table below to determine your total income:


Determine what your monthly expenses would be living off campus:


Financial Literacy Program: Budget Worksheet

Creating a budget is the first step leading to healthy money habits. Don't know how to start? Click on the Interactive Budget Worksheet link below. You can download and save it to your computer. Enter your resources and expenses, and the worksheet will do your budget calculations for you.

Click here to download the Interactive Budget Worksheet


The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs
200 Archbold North