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What Happens After Committing to a College: Financial Edition

Robyn Stewart College Finance Expert

Written by Robyn Stewarton June 25th, 2024

Prior to joining College Coach, I was a financial aid officer at the College of the Holy Cross and an education advisor at two TRIO program locations. I work with the Massachusetts Education Finance Authority (MEFA) to present paying for college workshops to hundreds of families across the state. I'm a graduate of UMass Amherst and have a master in counseling from Northeastern University.
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Many of the educators at Bright Horizons College Coach are also parents of high school students. We are excited to share with you some personal insights on college admission and finance as we navigate this process with our own families.

Fellow parents of the high school class of 2024, this post is for you!

What a year it has been! We survived the applying to college phase! Followed by the getting into college phase, which was quickly overshadowed by the paying for college phase in my house.

We now find ourselves in the what happens next phase.


By now, most students have sent off their enrollment deposit to hold their spot for this fall. Some colleges also have a separate housing deposit. If your student is done, great! If they are holding out hope for a spot on the waitlist at another school, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with deposit refund policies.

Change in Circumstances

For graduating seniors, their base year for need-based financial aid was 2022. This is the tax year and income information that is reported on the aid applications. If your situation has changed, you may be a candidate for a financial aid appeal. Check out the college’s financial aid office website for more information about this process. There may be a form for you to complete and additional documentation to send.


Late spring is the perfect time for families to research and apply for financing for the upcoming academic year. Beyond the federal student loan program, there are financing options for parents who wish to borrow on behalf of their student or co-sign a loan with their student for access to additional funds. Take care to review the direct costs at the college so you can try to minimize overall loan debt if you are borrowing.

Student Loan Paperwork

All students, regardless of family income, are able to borrow from the federal student loan program. These capped loans are a way for students to have some responsibility in this process and finance some of their school costs. No parent co-signer is required. The next steps for securing this funding are to complete online entrance counseling and submit a master promissory note. Learn more about the federal student loan program here.

Health Insurance

If your student is covered under your health insurance policy, consider waiving the school-issued insurance; this could save you a few thousand dollars each year. Most colleges will automatically enroll your student so you must proactively submit a waiver or proof of adequate coverage. Before you sign on the bottom line make sure to read the fine print. Depending on your plan, you want to confirm if your student can utilize the on-campus health center for emergencies and seek treatment at nearby medical facilities, if necessary. International students typically purchase the school’s medical insurance.

Paying the Bill

Head on over to the college’s student financial services/bursar’s office website to identify important dates like when your bill is due. If you are hoping to pay some of the costs out of pocket or break down payments into smaller amounts without accruing interest, you may consider signing up for a payment or installment plan. These plans allow you to spread your outstanding balance over the course of a semester or academic year.

Work Study/Campus Employment

There are many ways a student can earn money to put toward their indirect costs like food purchases outside of the meal plan, entertainment, and laundry detergent. Work-study is a federally subsidized employment program in which students can work on or off campus. Money is allocated, not automatically awarded, so if your student received work-study funding, their next step is to contact the financial aid office to learn more about job opportunities on campus. Students who do not qualify for need-based aid are still able to work through campus employment programs.

Financial Success

Continue to teach your student how to understand financial concepts such as taxes on paychecks, interest on student loans and credit cards, and how to budget their spending money. Many colleges offer financial literacy programs to help students sharpen their financial skills through peer mentoring, online courses and webinars, and various programs that will allow them to thrive in this next chapter.

Work with our college finance experts to help you determine the best way to pay for college.


Interested in learning more about how our college admissions counseling services can help your student succeed?

Call 877-402-6224 or complete the form for information on getting your student started with one of our experts.

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