Name: Kim Bjorkman, Class of 2019
Undergrad: University of Puget Sound
Hometown: Jackson, WY
Fun Fact: I sang the national anthem at rodeos when I was in high school!
Living as a graduate student does not mean that you must subsist on Top Ramen and canned soup, but it does require taking responsibility for your finances and making informed decisions. I’m here to give some insight on how it’s possible to still live like a normal human being while on a graduate student budget.
First off, the nitty gritty:
Each year of the program, you can accept $20,500 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans. You can also apply for a Federal Direct Graduate PLUS loan. The amount of Grad PLUS loans you are eligible to apply for will vary year to year, but expect around $25,000 per year. It’s important to remember that even if the Grad PLUS loans are on your financial aid award letter, you still must apply for them to actually receive the loan!
If you establish Colorado residency right when you get here (before the start of fall semester), you can also qualify for the Colorado Graduate Grant (starting 1 year after you become a resident). The grant pays $5,000 per school year, so be sure to apply as early as possible for residency to make sure you can get the grant for you 2nd and 3rd years of DPT school! Eligibility entails having a CO driver’s license, being registered to vote in CO, and all vehicles in your name being registered in CO. Prior to applying for the grant, you must also update your FAFSA with your CO address and ensure that your state of legal residency is listed as Colorado. Finally, you must ensure that your address in Regis’ system is updated. Remember, you must apply for FAFSA each year to be eligible for the Colorado Graduate Grant.
As you’re creating your budget, here are some things to keep in mind:
The loans are distributed at the start of fall semester your first year. This money will be for fall and spring semesters. You will get another disbursement at the start of the summer semester for the same amount of money. This must last you for summer, fall and spring! So, essentially, every semester the financial aid will be dispersed in three equal quantities…but there will be differences in tuition costs each semester. This will result in an imbalance in refunds—be sure to plan ahead.
If you have questions about your particular circumstances, email or make an appointment with our financial aid counselor, James Cesar, at Jcesar@regis.edu.
Now that you have your bank account full of loan money, how do you make it stretch?
While on my graduate student budget this year, I discovered several ways to save money here and there, and it has added up!
Here is the inside scoop to becoming a Master Couponer:
- Digital coupons: create an online account with your grocery store of choice (King Soopers, Sprouts, Safeway, etc.) and simply load digital coupons to your club card. As long as these are loaded prior to shopping, they are automatically deducted when you checkout. No paper coupons necessary!
- Ibotta: this is an app created right here in Denver that provides digital rebates for all sorts of things! You can get money back on groceries, alcohol, Uber rides, Amazon purchases…The possibilities are endless. Once you’ve earned $20, you can transfer the cash to Venmo, PayPal or a gift card. If you access the app using my referral code, https://ibotta.com/r/jtfwknt, you will get a $10 bonus when you redeem a rebate within a week of loading the app J (Pro tip: “any brand” items do not count toward earning this $10 bonus).
- Other apps: there are two other rebate apps I sometimes use, Checkout 51 and Mobisave, that have less items but can be helpful in saving a few dollars.
- Groupon: get an additional 25% student discount on all local deals. While you can certainly find deals for restaurants and spas, Groupon also has deals for dental care, car maintenance and Costco memberships. Get a bonus 3-10% savings if you access the Groupon app through Ibotta!
Living on a student loan budget does impose some limitations, but when managed responsibly, it is certainly possible to enjoy your time in graduate school. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.