Easing the pain with tuition payment plans

payment plansBest made plans for making tuition payments are sometimes derailed by an unexpected job loss, unanticipated storm damage, or the onset of $400 monthly gas bills. If you find that your accounts are suffering from recent market plunges you may be interested in options other than simply writing a check for tuition and room and board.

There are numerous options that can help you to pay for that second semester bill without taking on additional loan debt. Many schools now offer payment plan options but do charge a fee for the service. Listed below are sample plans that stretch payments over three months or ten months. If your school has such options you will receive information at Summer Orientation.

Three Payment Plan

The service fee is usually small for this option; it is $35 at my son’s university. This plan allows you to spread the cost of one semester’s payment over a three month period of time. You can opt to receive bills from the management service OR have money withdrawn automatically from your account. Second semester payment dates are frequently the first of December, February and March. First semester dates are the first of August, September, and October. Let’s say that the FAFSA report determined that your family’s share of the bill, your Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) is $12,000 per year or $6,000 per semester. With a three payment plan you will need to pay $2,035 in December, the $35 service fee is included in the first month’s payment. An additional $2,000 will then be paid in each of the following two months.

Advantages: If you have money set aside it may be an advantage to let that money work for you, gaining interest while you spread out your tuition payments over a short period of time.

Disadvantages: You start making payments approximately one month prior to the start of each semester.

Ten Payment Plan

This plan is similar to the 3 payment plan except that you will be paying for the entire year (both semesters) over the course of ten months. The service fee is only slightly larger, $55 at Mike’s college. Using the same costs and EFC as in the previous example, your first payment would include the service fee and be $1,255. Each remaining month you would owe the school an additional $1,200 payment.

Advantages: You stretch out your payments for a longer period of time with a smaller payment due each month. Payments start June 1st and last through the month of March.

Disadvantages: You start paying approximately 60-75 days prior to the 1st day of class. Had we chosen this option we would have made the first payment on June 1st, the very same day that our son graduated from high school!

If either of these options sounds like a workable plan for your family, contact either the university’s Parent Office or the Bursar’s office. For my family, any option that allows me to spread out my payments without increasing Mike’s post-graduation loan debt is a good plan.


Tuition and Bills