UNDERSTANDING YOUR COLLEGE BILL

Breaking down what goes into your College Bill and next steps
College Costs

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT COLLEGE BILL AND PAYMENT PLANS

Costs like tuition, fees, and health insurance are included as part of your college bill. If you live on campus and have a meal plan those costs will also be included in your College Bill.  Most schools will require you to have health insurance but If you’re already covered under your family’s plan, you do have the option to waive that fee. For this, and other tips provided below, be sure to check with your college’s bursar or student accounting office for exact instructions. 


Hint: Be prepared! Whatever costs that are not covered by your financial aid will be the actual College Bill you will need to pay directly to the college.

WHEN CAN I EXPECT TO RECEIVE MY COLLEGE BILL

Typically in July or August, you will receive a College Bill for your first year of college. You can expect to receive a bill within this same timeframe each year that you attend college. Colleges often offer pay-as-you-go payment plans which enable you to spread out College Bill payments over the course of a quarter, semester, or the full academic year.

ACT FAST TO AVOID DELAYS IN REGISTERING FOR COURSES

Figure out when the total balance on your College Bill is actually due and make sure to arrange a payment plan option BEFORE your due date. If you have an outstanding bill and do not arrange a payment plan in time, your course registration may be put on hold. (Courses fill up fast so don’t get stuck with a delay!)

START BY ACCEPTING ALL YOUR FINANCIAL AID

Before you sign up for a payment plan, make sure your scholarships, grants, and loans are correct in the Financial Aid section of your college’s student portal website. Your College Bill will be whatever is leftover after you accept all this aid.

Not ready to make a decision on loans? Check out “Ultimate Guide to Loans for Parents & Students”. Not sure how to accept your aid? See a walk-through in “How to Accept Your Aid”.

FIND THE RIGHT OFFICE AT YOUR COLLEGE

The office that handles payment plans is different depending on the college. Any of the following offices might handle payment plans: Student Accounting Office, Bursar, or Financial Aid Office.

If you think the college might not have a payment plan, make sure to check with all of these offices before giving up on this option.

ASK THE COLLEGE FOR DETAILS

Payment plans can look different at different colleges. Try googling the name of your college and the words “payment plan” to find the page on the college’s website that can tell you all the details.

If you can’t find clear information online, make sure to contact the appropriate office and ask for all the details. Here are some questions to ask:

  • “Do you have multiple payment plan options or just one?”
  • “How many payments will there be? How much will be due and on what exact dates?”
  • “What is the fee for enrolling in the payment plan? Is it a flat fee or is it a percentage of the total tuition and fees?”
  • Are there any other fees I should know about?
  • “Do I need to have a checking account or credit card in order to enroll in a payment plan?”
  • “Does the payment plan apply to the housing/meals part of my bill or just the tuition part?”
  • “What do I need to do to enroll? By what date?”
  • “Do you offer a way for my family to enroll in automatic payments?”
  • “If additional money becomes available suddenly, is there a way to cancel the payment plan? Will the fee be refunded?”
  • “Is there a penalty or fee for a late payment?”

PUT THE PAYMENT DATES IN YOUR CALENDAR

Put the due dates for payments and the amount of each payment in a calendar for you and your family. Talk about who will be making each payment and make sure that person has reminders set up so that they don’t forget.

CONTACT THE COLLEGE IF YOU CAN’T MAKE A PAYMENT ON TIME

If you or your family run into a financial emergency and think there is even a tiny chance that you may not be able to make your first payment on time, it is critical to talk to the college and let them know your situation as soon as possible. The college will usually try to work with you, but they will become much less cooperative if you wait until after the payment is late.


Call or Email the College’s Student Accounting Office, Bursar, or Financial Aid Office and say “I need help with my payment plan” if you still have questions about payment plans.