College Tuition Payment Plans

After you've accepted a college’s offer of admission, you receive a student bill that lists your costs. Gift aid (grants, scholarships and waivers) and loans are subtracted from the total, leaving an amount that you have to pay. Once you have that amount, you need to determine the best way to make payments.

Payment Options

Your college probably has a number of payment options available. Some colleges offer creative financing plans, such as prepayment of four years' tuition (generally based on the current rate), or monthly payments. Choose the plan that best fits your needs.

Monthly plans usually give you the most time to pay; your payments for the year are spread out over 12 months. Many colleges charge a fee for this type of extended payment plan. Weigh the extra cost against what you would earn in interest by holding on to your money for a longer period of time.

You may want to find out whether the college offers a deferred payment plan. You can use this option if you feel it will be difficult to meet the cost of an entire semester.

If the option you need isn't available directly from your college, ask the college’s financial aid officers to recommend a company that can provide alternatives. There are several organizations that make these types of plans available, although there are fees involved. Be sure you understand all the terms of your tuition payment plan before signing any contracts.

Be Prepared for Nonbillable Costs

Nonbillable costs are college expenses that are not included in the amount you're billed by the college. Be prepared to pay for books and supplies, personal items, and travel. If you aren’t going to live and eat on campus, your room and board are not included in the college’s bill, and you have to budget for those additional costs.