paying college bills

For many families, the month of April during senior year is a tough time! They may have survived the college visits, SATs, essays, and applications, but now they have a big decision to make: choosing the right college!

The decision may include many different factors, but once you know where you’re applying, you will have to send in a monetary deposit to secure your spot in the class and in a residence hall (if you’re living on campus). The deadline for submitting your deposit is May 1st, no matter where you’ve been admitted. If your college of choice has limited housing, depositing earlier may guarantee you better housing, so at these institutions, the earlier you deposit, the better. After May 1st, you will not get a refund on your deposit; and because most colleges require a deposit of $500 to $800, it is important to think carefully about where you deposit.

After depositing, you will begin to receive info on selecting a roommate, attending orientation, applying for a loan or payment plan, and paying the bill. Most colleges will bill you for the fall semester around July 1st, and require payment by August 1st. If the bill remains unpaid you may be blocked from orientation, moving on campus, or registering for classes. Late fees for overdue bills are also charged.

Important things to look out for on the bill include: health insurance, meal plans, housing, and financial aid. Colleges are required to offer health insurance to full time students and will include it on the bill. If you wish to waive health insurance coverage, you will have to submit proof that you already have health insurance coverage. Double check the meal plan that they are billing you for—some are more expensive than others, so make sure you’re billed for the plan you chose! The same goes for housing. A single room can be much more expense than a triple. Lastly, make sure that all the financial aid (grants, scholarships, and loans) that you accepted are showing up on the bill as a deduction, along with the deposit you have paid. The remaining balance is what is due to enroll. Finally, if you are planning on borrowing a loan or signing up for a payment plan to pay the balance of your bill, this must be in place and approved before the bill is due.

Now that you have all that taken care of, you are ready to embark on your college journey!

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Written by Laurie Peltier
Laurie Peltier is a college finance expert at College Coach. Before joining College Coach, she was a Senior Financial Aid Officer at Becker College and Anna Maria College.