An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

Finalizing Your Financial Aid Package

The Fall 2011 semester is right around the corner!

Many of you will be entering college as freshman in just a few short weeks, and if you were anything like me at that stage in life, you have a lot going on. You are trying to get all of dorm furniture and gadgets stocked away, you are trying to connect with your future roommate to make sure they are not weird, you are finishing up a summer job, camp, or spend as much time with your friends as possible.

A New Season and a New Way of Thinking

One thing that most entering freshman do not think about until the very last minute is their financial aid package and their tuition bill. Parents, whether this is right or not, generally are the ones being held responsible for managing the tuition bill and ensuring that it is paid on time.

If there is one thing that I want to stress on this blog, it is that even starting out as an 17 or 18 year old entering freshman, it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that your financial aid package is what it needs to be, and it is YOUR responsibility to ensure that your bill is paid. In fact, unless you give them access, under FERPA regulations, parents will not even have access to a student’s account unless the student gives them access; even though they may be the ones paying the bill!!

Entering college is an excellent time to begin the maturing process. Parents, this means letting go a little bit. Your child will be considered an adult by the college they are attending and they they will be treated as such and given authority to make important decisions on their own.

Students, there will be a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. Earning a college degree involves a lot more than simply showing up to class and making good grades on exams. It requires planning, decision making (often difficult and complex), flexibility, and focus.

Moving on.

Financial Aid Package

Most colleges post their tuition bills at least one month prior to the start of classes. This gives the Summer semester time to wrap up, and allows students to focus on the Fall semester. The majority of you should now have access to your tuition bill for the Fall 2011 semester.

When you look at your tuition bill you will see multiple columns on your bill. You will see a breakdown of your charges, and then you will see a breakdown of your credits, payments, and financial aid.

If you have questions about any of the charges that you see on your bill you should contact your Bursar’s Office, or your Student FInancial Services offices for assistance.

If you have questions about your financial aid, then you should contact your Student Financial Aid Office.

When your tuition bill goes live you will see a snapshot of your tuition bill. You will also get credit for any financial aid award that you have accepted on your financial aid award letter. All financial aid awards, even if they are grants or scholarships that do not have to be repaid, must be accepted.

Some schools employ auto-acceptance tactics for grants and scholarships, while many others require students to accept each award individually.

When you look at your bill, you should compare the financial aid that is on your award letter, to the financial aid listed as a credit on your bill. It is your responsibility to ensure that this matches up.

Remember, nobody but YOU has your best interest in mind. It is your responsibility to follow up and correct any mistakes!

Ensuring that your financial aid package is correct will save you costly mistakes down the road.

As always, if you have questions about your financial aid, please do not hesitate to ask. I will do my best to answer them as thoroughly as I am able!

Cheers to a great Fall 2011 Semester!

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