What do I do with my first college tuition bill?
It is hard to believe, but July is here now and that means you’ll soon end up being receiving your child’s first college bill (if you haven’t already). Although you may have been preparing for this day pertaining to what seems like an eternity, that 1st tuition bill can still catch you off guard. Here are some things you ought to know before making any payments.
First, most colleges use a “paperless” billing system. Usually, the college student (not the parents) will obtain an email notification that the college costs is due, and the charges can be viewed at the student’s web portal. Some colleges have parent portals that, along with your child’s permission, allow you to view financial aid and billing statements. If your child’s school doesn’t have a parent portal, you may want to ask your son or daughter to share their login information with you so that you can access and pay the costs.
Review the costs carefully for accuracy and to make sure that you actually need all the items for which you’re becoming billed. If your employer-sponsored health insurance program will cover your student when he could be at school (as most plans will), you may be able to waive the particular school’s insurance coverage. Check to see that the dinner plan you’ve chosen is the one on the bill. Meal plans are often one of the items where downsizing won’t hurt, as many students find they don’t make it to the dining hall twenty one times per week. Investigate whether they may or may not be able to use their meal credit cards at other on or away from campus establishments, and don’t forget all the mac and cheese and popcorn in the dorm! Review fees to ensure that you aren’t being charged a lab fee if your student’s schedule does not include a lab science. And keep in your mind, if your student is borrowing federal student loans and has not completed entry counseling or a promissory note, the particular credits for those loans may not show on the bill and action will be required of your child to secure that will loan funding.
In case you are considering borrowing parent loans , figure out exactly how much you will need to cover the charges. The Financial Aid Office determined your eligibility for a PLUS loan based on the cost of attendance minus any financial aid your student has been awarded, yet that amount may be more than what you actually need to cover the bill. In case you haven’t considered a payment program, you might want to do that now. A transaction plan allows you to divide your payments, interest free, over 3, 6, ten, or sometimes 12 months, depending on the program. For a small account setup fee, you determine the amount you want to spend over the term of the plan. A few families choose to use payment plans to protect the entire bill, while others will supplement a payment plan with a parent loan. Payment plans are a great way to maintain parent borrowing at a more reasonable degree or even eliminate borrowing altogether. Your entire day to day expenses, such as groceries, gas, utilities and extracurricular activities, will decrease when your child leaves for school, freeing up a few funds that can be used towards a transaction plan.
As with any purchase, before writing that check to the college or signing on the dotted line for the loan, make sure you understand exactly what you are paying for. If you have any questions about charges on your child’s tuition costs or financial aid credits, reach out to the particular school’s Student Financial Services Office pertaining to assistance, or seek the guidance of a qualified college finance expert.
Jeanne Mahan is a member of College Coach’s team of college finance experts. She worked as a older financial aid officer at Tufts University and Quinsigamond Community College just before joining College Coach.