Paying your student's college tuition bill


Before your student can begin their first day of classes, they’ll have to pay all their college charges. But it’s not quite as simple as paying the check at a restaurant. Read on to see step-by-step instructions on how to square the bill.

Receiving the bill

The school will most likely send your student’s bill via email. Your student should check their college email inbox regularly. They may also be able to access their bill online through their student portal. If you want to see your student’s bill, your student has to give you access to their account because of FERPA laws. If your student doesn’t receive their bill or has questions about it, they should contact the university billing or bursar’s office.

Reviewing the bill

The first thing your student should do when they receive their bill is to make sure it’s accurate. They should check that their housing, meal plan, health insurance, parking permit and all other charges are correctly billed and that it all adds up to the right amount. They’ll also want to make sure that their financial aid was applied to their bill. If it wasn’t, they need to check to make sure that their FAFSA is up to date and was properly filed. If not, they may need to resubmit it. Also, if your student is accepting loans to help pay for college, they’ll need to have completed a Master Promissory Note and loan entrance counseling before they receive their loan funds and have them apply toward their charges.

Consider how to pay your student’s tuition balance

If your student still owes money after financial aid is applied to their bill, your family has to consider how to cover the remaining expenses. First, has your student applied for all the scholarships they are eligible for? There are tons of scholarships out there and your student should apply for any and all that they qualify for, no matter how small they might seem. It’s free money and it adds up quickly.

Second, examine your own family budget to see if there is anything you can contribute. Be sure to take into account any upcoming expenses that you are aware of, and make sure that you’ll still be prepared for any unforeseen expenses if you contribute to helping your student pay for college.

Lastly, you can also check to see if your student’s school has a payment plan option — many do. And be sure to make all payments by the due dates to avoid late fees and other penalties.

If necessary, consider applying for a Parent PLUS Loan. This is a loan that you take out (and are responsible for paying back) to help your student cover their college expenses.

Remember, it’s an investment

Whether it’s a utility bill, a meal at a restaurant or college tuition, paying charges is never fun. But the difference is that college costs are an investment in your student’s future — one that will likely pay dividends over their lifetime. It helps to think of it as a little pain now for an easier future later.