Talk to your financial advisor at school. For me I filled out the financila aid application for school and the FAFSA. The school then cam back and told me how much I could get through federal loans (US Dept. of ED/SallyMae) and everything went through them ( I had to sign some paperwork and do an online tutorial). As an independent student you qualify for more than a dependent student. I qualified for subsidized and unsubsidized fed loans. The amount you can get depends on your year of school- I think the most is 8,500 for the 1st year and 10,500 the second. BUT if you have other aid (Pell Grant, scholarship
, etc) you can only receive the total aid that they calculate as the cost of attendance per year (tuition, transportation, books, housing) and these totals may be different for commuting and resident students.
So for example my calculated cost for the year are 15000 after tuition comes out(4500) then 10,500 is refunded for the year- 5,250 for each semester so after books, transportation and child care there may not be a lot left for rent.
But that all depends on your individual costs.
I don't know how private loans work- I never qualified without a cosigner and there is no one to do that. :-)
But look locally to help fill other costs- Food Stamps, Child care assistance though DHS, Medicaid. They are **** to get the application through- but it helps to make it all work.
Oh and once you get the refund- the money is yours to use as you want.