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Looking at your tuition bill, you may be shocked at the total expense. Here we will break down the different pieces that puzzle together your tuition bill, and answer some common questions associated with making these payments.  

What’s included on my tuition bill?

Tuition: Part of your tuition bill includes the tuition itself. “Tuition” refers to the money you pay to take classes, often calculated per credit hour or class.

Housing/Meal Plan: If you’re going away to college and living on-campus, housing and meal plans are charged per semester. These plans may be optional, but many colleges require incoming freshman to live their first year on-campus. If you hope to live off-campus, be sure to compare the pricing. Though rent may be cheaper, don’t forget to include other expenses such as utilities, wifi, furniture, food, and transportation costs.

Student Fees: These fees cover all the other aspects of student life. This including (but not limited to) student events and activities, health services, athletic facilities, technology support, and shuttle transportation. Once you are on-campus, you should take advantage of all these services and amenities available to you! That way, your money won’t go to waste. 

Books: Depending on the school you attend, books and supplies might be included in your tuition bill. If not, it is still a cost to consider. Avoid paying full price for textbooks with these hacks. 

How do I pay my tuition bill?

Nowadays, many colleges encourage you to pay online because it’s fast and convenient (but beware of “convenience” fees for paying by card). However, most schools also take checks sent in the mail. Just be sure to send it with plenty of time before your deadline. Some schools may even allow you to come to their financial office and pay in person. 

How does financial aid impact my tuition bill?

For many colleges, you will need to log into your student account and acknowledge or accept your aid. Once you do this, your aid will be applied automatically to your tuition bill, the balance you owe will reduce accordingly, and you will make your payment by the deadline. 

Where can I go if I have questions about my tuition bill?

Most schools have a financial office dedicated to financial aid, billing, and student tuition. It may be known as the Bursar’s Office. Historically, a bursar is someone who is responsible for financial administration within a school. If your school doesn’t have a Bursar’s office, the Registrar’s Office may have the information you need. (And if not, they will be able to point you in the right direction!) 

What if I can’t pay my tuition bill?

Of all the ways people pay for college, it is possible for funds to fall a few hundred (or thousand) dollars short. If you relate, take a deep breath. We know this can be a stressful situation, but you DO have options. If you are near a payment deadline, call your college’s financial aid office and request an extension. With a little extra time, you can figure this out. 

Special Circumstance: If you’re financial situation has changed from the time you submitted your FAFSA application (whether that be from a parent losing a job or unforeseen medical bills), apply for special circumstance consideration. The financial aid office will be able to provide a form for you to fill out, and you may be able to receive further aid. 

Tuition Payment Plan: Rather than paying a large sum upfront, a payment plan allows you to pay smaller, more frequent installments over the semester. Keep in mind, these plans may have additional charges. (Though you will not have to worry about accumulating interest). 

Work Study: You may be able to reduce the cost of your tuition by working for the university. There are all kinds of jobs on-campus that may appeal to your interests and allow you to strike a deal with your school! Learn about different jobs on-campus by reading this article.

GoFundMe: You may be able to ask for help through fundraising websites such as GoFundMe. It may feel intimidating to ask for money from family and friends, but there are generous people out there who may be willing to contribute to your education.

Short-Term Loan/Emergency Loan: We know, you want to be able to pay for college WITHOUT student loans, but sometimes they are necessary. Emergency loans or short-term loans allow you to take out the money you need and pay it back within a year. This may be a prime option for someone who plans to work during the semester. 

Understanding your tuition bill and your financial situation will ensure that you are paying the correct amount for school. Now that you are fully equipped with the knowledge you need, you can make financial decisions with confidence. If you would like to learn more about budgeting in college, check out these tools!