After you’ve made your decision and accepted admission at a school, you’ll receive a bill. Bills are typically sent over the summer and are due in late July or August.
Once you’ve received your bill, make sure you understand the charges, know your payment options, and confirm that any financial aid was applied.
Review Your Bill
You may receive a paper copy of your bill in the mail or be able to view it on the school’s online portal. On the bill, you can expect to find tuition, fees, and room and board minus any financial aid including scholarships, grants, and loans.
Here are a few other things to look out for that can reduce the total amount you’ll pay:
- Health insurance: Many schools automatically charge you for health insurance coverage. However, if you are covered under your parents’ plan (and many students are!) you can have that charge waived. Be sure you take the necessary steps to have the charge removed. Many schools have a deadline, so don’t delay!
- Meal plan: Be sure you are being charged for the meal plan that’s right for you. Some schools may offer a premium meal plan that’s not really necessary.
- Financial aid: Make sure all the financial aid you are eligible for has been applied to your bill. If it hasn’t been, contact the financial aid office to see if there is any additional paperwork that needs to be completed.
Things to Look for on Your Tuition Bill
It’s important to make sure you understand the charges on your bill, know all of your payment options and make sure all of your financial aid was applied.
Ways to Pay the Remaining Balance
Many families pay for college using a piecemeal approach, pulling from a variety of resources. Use FAME’s Calculating Resources Worksheet to help identify what resources you may have available.
Private or outside scholarships are a great way to close the gap and get the bill paid. Students should apply for scholarships while in high school and continue to do so once in college. Search for scholarships using free online scholarship searches. Also, ask the financial aid office if there are scholarships available through the school that require a separate application. If you receive an outside scholarship, let your financial aid office know as early as possible.
Tuition Payment Plans
Many families use a portion of their income to pay the bill. Many schools offer tuition payment plans that allow you to pay your tuition in installments over the semester or year. Most plans are interest-free but may charge a fee. Ask your financial aid office about their policies.
Families with savings can use those savings to pay a portion of the bill. Savings may be in the form of a 529 account or other college savings plans or simply in a traditional savings account. Student savings from work and holiday or graduation gifts can also help be part of a piecemeal approach to pay for school. If you are able to plan ahead, there are many options for saving for higher education.
Any financial aid you received should be reduced from the bill, but if you didn’t file a FAFSA, it’s still not too late. If you have a Direct Loan included as part of your financial aid offer, you’ll need to accept the loan and complete online loan counseling and a Master Promissory Note at StudentAid.gov before funds can be released.
If you have questions about filing your FAFSA, FAME can help! Learn more about filing the FAFSA.
Private Student Loans
Some families borrow private student loans to pay the remaining balance after financial aid and all other options have been explored. Before borrowing private loans, be sure you’ve maximized your federal student loan eligibility. Federal student loans typically offer the most favorable rates and terms. Many private loan options exist, so be sure to learn more about borrowing a private student loan.
Education Tax Credits
Education tax credits can help get the bill paid by reducing the amount of taxes owed and freeing up money to pay a portion of future tuition bills. Learn more about taking advantage of available tax credits and deductions.