5 Tips for Paying the Tuition Bill

July in Maine means summer has finally arrived. For the college bound student, July is also when the tuition bill typically arrives. Hopefully you’ve already filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If not, submit the FAFSA as soon as possible at FAFSA.gov. Need help paying your bill? Consider these five tips:

1. Review your bill, thoroughly.

Be sure you understand all of your charges and only pay for required expenses. Typically students are automatically billed for medical insurance. If you are covered by another policy, follow the steps to waive the college’s insurance so you are not paying twice for medical insurance. Also review the bill to determine if all of your financial aid has been applied to the bill. Federal loans require additional steps, and funds cannot be credited to your account until around the start of the semester. Make sure these loans are showing as "anticipated aid" so that you aren’t charged a late fee.

    2. Reduce the costs YOU can control.

    Housing, food, and books are expenses that you can control. Living at home or choosing to live with a roommate could save you thousands of dollars every year. Nutrition is important, so if you plan to eat on-campus, choose a meal plan that works for you. Don't pay for more than you will eat. More importantly, if you have a meal plan, use it and avoid eating out. Consider renting your textbooks online or buying them used--you could save hundreds of dollars! 

    Want to learn more money saving tips? Check out our guide to Managing Your Money.

      3. Continue the hunt for scholarships.

      Keep up the search for scholarships all year long using FREE websites. Free and reliable sites include FAMEmaine.com, mainecf.org, collegeboard.org, and petersons.com. Scholarships are typically awarded outside of the college’s financial aid awarding process and require students to actively research and find them. Remember, every dollar that doesn’t have to be repaid is a good dollar.

        4. Consider enrolling in a tuition payment plan.

        Most schools have tuition payment plans that will allow you to pay your bill over a period of months instead of in one large lump sum payment. Use savings, income, monetary gifts, and summer earnings to help cover the monthly payment. Tuition payment plans are not loans, and while no interest is charged, there typically is a small enrollment fee. Contact your Bursar’s Office for additional information.

          5. Explore borrowing options.

          After taking full advantage of grants, scholarships, and your full Federal Direct Loan eligibility, consider the following education loan options: 

          • The Federal Parent PLUS Loan is a loan program for parents of dependent undergraduate students and graduate students. PLUS Loans are funded by the federal government, have fixed interest rates, and offer a variety of flexible repayment options. Contact your school for more information regarding the application process.

          • Private Education Loans are offered through private lending institutions. The student is usually the borrower and often a co-signer is required. These loans are credit based and lender approval is based on credit history plus a debt to income ratio. Interest rates vary and are often tied to credit worthiness. Visit TheLoanforME.com for your Maine options.