How to Take Advantage of Tuition Payment Plans

Taking the initiative to make the next productive step forward in life is always daunting. Whether you're taking that step for yourself or for someone you love, College Foundation of North Carolina has you covered. We are proud to provide resources and support to make the step toward higher education easier than ever.

It turns out there are options to help parents and students pay for school you may have never considered. Do you know about tuition payment plans? Tuition payment plans should not be confused with student loan repayment programs (like income-based repayment).

Instead, these innovative plans are designed specifically to help students with tuition itself. But how do tuition plans work and how can you take advantage of one?

What is a Tuition Payment Plan?

When you get your first tuition bill, you might experience some sticker shock. It's natural to feel overwhelmed when looking at a bill for potentially thousands of dollars. However, wait before you take out that student loan. There are more options to help with the bill than you may realize.

There are many families who maybe able to pay the bill from their own earnings, just not all at once. What if you could pay your tuition in smaller, steady installments instead of a lump sum? That's exactly what a tuition payment plan does for students.

In a tuition payment plan, your college or university agrees to let you pay the bill for your tuition and other qualified expenses over the course of several months to up to a year. How long the terms of your plan are depends on your university and what works best for you. Expenses that can be included in a tuition installment plan may also include, fees, meal plans, and on-campus housing. Included expenses can vary, so speak with your school first.

Enjoy Interest-Free Monthly Payments for Tuition

Another benefit of tuition payment plans is that they rarely charge interest. That's right, you might get to take more time paying your tuition bill interest-free. However, while there is no interest, there are fees associated with this type of payment plan. Fees for tuition payment plans typically fall between $30 and $150, depending on the school and payment plan you choose.

Some schools also offer a variety of different plans. This may mean a shorter or longer payment period that can range anywhere from five to 12 months. Make sure you speak with an admissions counselor or academic advisor at your college to learn about payment plans at your school, how long the terms are, and what it covers.

Ask If You Can Afford a Tuition Payment Plan

Even with a tuition payment plan in place, college can still be expensive. It is crucial you take a close look at your budget first. Ask yourself if you can comfortably afford to pay a new bill, on time, every month. If you think it's going to be a struggle, then a plan may not be right for you. There are serious consequences to being late on tuition payments, including additional fees.

It is also important to note that most payment plans require you to pay your bill by cash or check. Many universities will not allow you to make payments by credit card. While some schools allow credit cards, there may be an additional convenience fee added to your plan. Be sure to speak with your school about which methods you can use to make payments.

Find the Right Student Loan to Bridge the Gap

Even with a payment plan in place, college can cost a lot. Most plans are limited by how you can use them. Your payment plan can help you pay for things like tuition and potentially fees and on-campus housing. Still, it's important to keep in mind that you can't use it for other costs of school like textbooks, an off-campus apartment, or personal expenses.

Covering these additional expenses is where finding the right student loan for you and your family can be a lifesaver. But first, be sure to take full advantage of all your available financial aid. This starts when you fill out the FAFSA and apply for plenty of scholarships.

Once you've exhausted your financial aid, ask your school about options for tuition payment plans. These plans enable families to pay for the cost of school out of their own pockets on a schedule that works for them. The more you can pay for college yourself means less you'll have to borrow in student loans.

If you still find yourself coming up short between financial aid and your school's cost of attendance, it might be time to consider a student loan. An alternative student loan like NC Assist can feature highly competitive student loan interest rates to help you afford school. Learn more about the NC Student Assist Loan and how it may be right for you.