All of the additional factors like car payments, particularly expensive rent, child costs, etc can be "petitioned" (for lack of a better word) with the financial aid dept of your school, but they won't always agree that you NEED that crap or that they are "educational expenses," and so may not increase your budget. I found a place called NextStudent.com that has been really helpful and able to go above and beyond the school's motherly restrictions. You don't have to tell the school you are taking this loan, but you need to provide NextStudent with proof of enrollment and the schedule of expected costs from the school. I haven't initiated my loan yet so I can't verify that they are great once you start, but they've been incredibly helpful for me thus far. You get the money (not the school) and it comes (according to them) in 5 days or less. You may need a cosigner if you haven't been working at a steady job for 2 years or more.