To make your money meet your expenses, the first thing you need to do is create a budget. If your income, including financial aid, doesn't equal or exceed your projected expenses, you will need to either increase your income (work or borrow more) or decrease your expenses.

Use this worksheet to estimate your income and expenses.

Additional CMU cost information: CMU Cost of Attendance Calculator, tuition rates, housing payment schedule.

Your actual line items might vary. Be honest about your needs and wants, but realize that you can't have it all.


Income (not monthly, but for the academic year):

________ Loans
________ Grants and scholarships
________ Fellowship or stipend
________ Savings at beginning of school year
________ Money from family
________ Work income during school year
________ Other
________ Other
________ Total Income

Expenses (fall/spring):

________ Tuition and fees
________ Books and supplies
________ CMU Room and Board

________ Apartment rent
________ Groceries
________ Apartment utilities (including deposits)
________ Apartment deposit
________ Apartment supplies (cleaning, tools, furniture, dishes, cookware)

________ Local transportation (car, bus)
________ Clothes, grooming, laundry
________ Cell phone
________ Take out and restaurant food and beverage
________ Entertainment (movies, DVDs, parties)
________ Other
________ Other
________ Other
________ Total expenses

________ Enter your total income(from above)
________ Enter your total expenses (from above)
________ Subtract to get your bottom line

Are you living within your budget?

If your bottom line is positive, you're in good shape.
If your bottom line is negative, consider the tips below to balance your budget.


If you receive financial aid…

Financial aid is intended to cover a very modest student lifestyle, including only the basics: tuition and fees, room and board (double room, basic meal plan), books, and a small amount for personal expenses such as clothing, laundry, haircuts, etc.  Financial aid is NOT intended to pay for a car cell phone, spring break trip, iPod, or cigarettes. 

>For each expenditure ask yourself: Do I really need this?

If you are taking out student loans to cover "extras" do you really want to be paying interest years after graduation for things you could do without for now? Your time at CMU is a terrific chance to meet and mingle with people of many interests and cultures. Think of this as a free source of entertainment and enrichment.

>Protect your future: Don't borrow more than you need.

If you don't need the entire loan you are offered, just reduce your loan on Central Link under "Financial Aid Portal"

Consider your living arrangement.

Is that luxury apartment really a good deal? Do the math. If you live on campus, your "rent" includes all the food you need (even prepared for you with no dishes to do!), your bed linens, high speed internet, and you can walk to your classes. In an apartment, in addition to your rent, you will have to find your roommate(s), purchase and cook your own food, get yourself to class, come up with a rent deposit, pay for utilities, and possibly buy furniture.

Be careful with credit cards!

If you don't have the cash for a purchase, you probably can't afford it. However if you have a reasonable budget for personal expenditures and can pay off your credit card in full each month, you will be building good credit for your future.

Don't use an ATM card for an individual purchase if a fee is involved.

Do you really want to pay $2.25 for a $1.50 taco? These little fees add up fast.

Give yourself an allowance.

Know what you can afford to spend for goodies each month and make a monthly withdrawal. Divide that into weekly envelopes to help you stay within your budget.

Direct deposit is your friend.

A check in hand is easily spent. Have your earnings and financial aid deposited into your savings or checking account, and take it out only when you need it.

If you're not working, why not?

Working 15 hours a week could earn you $100/week or more. In addition to providing that income, your job could help you budget your time, increase your contacts, and build your skills and resume for your future career.

If you're having problems making ends meet, visit the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid.

We're happy to help you work out a reasonable budget.

Outside sites with calculators and money tips: