1)Curious to know how actual living costs compare with estimates on websites, particularly for Ultra Elite schools.
2)For international applicants, I understand there is some kind of a guaranteed loan. In this context, what is the min. amount of money one is expected to show from own savings?
It really depends on where you live and your lifestyle. I'm not attending an ultra-elite (or even elite) school, however my family budget is roughly $2000 a month, and that's living in a 700 sqft apartment a mere five blocks from campus. Add another ~$500 if you want a car, and another $1000 if you eat out regularly (I cook three meals a day).
I do know of a few frugal domestic and international classmates who claim to be scraping by on about $1200 p/month, but I can't imagine how.