Does Financial Aid Cover Books?

In short, yes, financial aid does cover the cost of books. Financial aid covers anything that falls under the cost of attendance, which includes:

• Tuition
• Room and Board or Off-Campus Housing and Food Costs
• Books
• Supplies (lab equipment, web-based programs, paper, pens, pencils, etc.)
• Computer
• Transportation to and from Classes (public transportation or car maintenance expenses and gas)

As you can see, books fall under the cost of attendance umbrella.

Does It Matter If the Financial Aid is a Loan or a Grant?

Financial aid refers to both grants and loans. So, the cost of books will be covered whether your financial aid is in the form of a loan or a needs based grant.

How Can You Use Financial Aid Money to Buy Textbooks?

Typically, financial aid money is sent directly to the school. Then, the school disburses the excess funds to you, up and above the direct billed expenses. You would then use those funds to buy your school necessities, i.e., books.

What If I Don’t Receive My Financial Aid Funds in Time to Buy Books for When Classes Start?

Many times students don’t receive their financial aid funds until after classes start, but of course they need the books for their classes. In this case, any school that participates in a federal student aid program must provide a way for the student to obtain the needed books and supplies.

FYI – What Financial Aid Doesn’t Cover

You cannot use financial aid funds for:

• Activity fees related to school groups and clubs, fraternities or sororities
• Social activity expenses, i.e., school concerts
• Season school sports tickets
• Decorations for your dorm

Ask yourself if what you would like to spend money on is a need related to attending the school or want, something you simply would like to do.

For more information on this topic, read our blog What Do Student Loans Cover?

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students through Zoom, over the phone, and by email.