February 22, 2022
Five Tips to Pay the Remaining Balance After Financial Aid

Even if colleges offer generous financial aid, few students and/or families can afford to write a check to pay the full remainder of the school bill. The knee-jerk response may be to simply borrow the money to cover the remaining balance, but that isn't the only option! Here are five tips to explore before borrowing.
1. Maximize Financial Aid
Many students and families have had changes in income over the past two years. It is important to consider if the FAFSA accurately reflects the family’s current financial situation. This might mean reduction in income or out-of-pocket expenses not reflected on the FAFSA. Connect with the financial aid office to provide that information and discuss an appeal. Additional financial aid may be available to help pay the bill.
2. Apply for Scholarships
Now is the time for students to apply for scholarships! Many scholarships become available after January 1 and have spring deadlines. High school students should check with their guidance office to see how to apply for scholarships offered through the school. And don’t stop searching for scholarships after spring. Applying for scholarships can be a year-round activity. Like filing the FAFSA, students should apply for scholarships each year. Applying for scholarships takes time and effort, but the hard work can pay off and help pay the college bill. Look for scholarships using FAME’s Scholarship Search Tool.
3. Savings
It may seem late in the game to start saving for college, but every dollar saved can make a difference! Birthdays and holidays are a great time to ask friends and family members to contribute to a college savings fund. FAME administers NextGen 529® Maine’s Section 529 plan, which many families use to save for higher education. Additionally, FAME offers matching grants for Maine residents through its Maine Grant Programs. Even small savings can help chip away at the college bill. Every dollar saved is one less dollar that is borrowed and has to be repaid with interest.

4. Summer Employment
Once students have received their financial aid offer and have a rough estimate of their out-of-pocket expenses, that amount can be used as a goal to raise with summer earnings. It may not be possible to earn enough to cover the entire balance, but saving up over the summer can put a dent in the tuition bill -- possibly bringing it down enough to pay the balance with a monthly payment plan. And why not get a job at an employer that offers scholarships or tuition reimbursement? Double bonus!

5. Reduce the Bill
Make sure there aren’t charges on the bill that can be waived or removed. For example, is there a charge for health insurance listed on the bill? Many students are already covered under parents’ or their own health insurance, so they are able to waive the student health insurance and reduce the bill. (There is usually a waiver process in place with a deadline.) Room and board is also a big expense. Consider living off campus or even commuting from home as an option. Also, see if adjustments to the meal plan can be made to reduce the charges. If living on campus, leave the car at home. Paying for a parking decal or paying parking fines can be a large expense.

If you would like someone from FAME to go over your tuition bill and help brainstorm ideas, sign up for one of our Financial Aid Coaching sessions at FAMEmaine.com. New appointment times are added to the schedule regularly. You can also call us at 800-228-3734 or email Education@FAMEmaine.com for more information.
For more information, check out our recent webinar:

Even if colleges offer generous financial aid, few students can afford to write a check for the full remaining amount needed to pay school bills. The knee-jerk response may be to simply borrow the money to cover the remaining balance, but that doesn’t have to be the only option!
For additional helpful information and resources, find previous tips on our website.
FAME's College Access and Financial Education Team:
Mila TappanCollege Access and Outreach Manager
Jessica WhittierCollege Access Counselor 
Nikki VachonCollege Access Counselor
Maria MacDougalCollege Access Counselor
Floreka MalualCollege Planning Advisor
Mary DyerFinancial Education Programs Manager
Sarah Newcomb, Financial Education Program Specialist
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