What to Expect From Your First Tuition Bill

Your first tuition bill can look as confusing as your offer letter. Pay careful attention to what you’ve been charged and look out for any discrepancies. 

Electronic Tuition Bills

Most colleges have gone paperless which means you won’t be receiving a tuition bill via snail mail. Instead, your student will receive an email alert notifying them that a bill is waiting. Tell your student to look out for this email. You’ll be advised by the college to set up your own parent portal so you can view billing and account information and pay fees. 

Due Date

You’ll need to pay tuition fees for the fall semester so your student can sign up for classes. Most colleges (especially higher-cost schools) have a tuition installment payment plan for families. If you enroll in a payment plan, make sure you pay your installment balances when they are due. If you don’t, you could end up being charged with a late fee. Colleges usually don’t bill you for the entire year up front so expect to see another bill in the spring.

Charges and Credits

Make sure that any grants, scholarships and loans are all accounted for and that the amounts are correct on your tuition bill. If anything is missing, or if you aren’t sure about the amount you’ve been credited, contact your financial aid office immediately. Check the accuracy of your housing and meal plan costs too. (Meal plans can usually be changed fairly easily.) 

Student Health Insurance

Colleges will bill you for mandatory student health insurance. This cost is separate from tuition cost and should be listed on your fall semester bill. If it’s not, it may be part of what’s called ‘college costs’ on your bill. You can save money by waiving the student-health insurance fee. You’ll need to fill out a waiver form and the college will need to approve your current health insurance before they’ll grant you a waiver. If you can’t locate the price for student health insurance, call the college’s student health plan office for more information. 

Special Circumstances

If you’re concerned about paying your tuition bill, contact your college’s financial aid office. They’ll work with you to help you solve any financial shortfalls. If your circumstances have changed since your student was admitted, give your financial aid officer all the details. You may qualify for additional need-based aid. 

Ask for Help

The balance due on a tuition bill will look overwhelming to most families. If you have any questions about the charges on your bill, call the financial aid office at your student’s college and ask for an explanation. Your financial aid officer can answer any questions and help you resolve any issues you may have.  

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