May 1st is National College Decision Day for college-bound high school seniors. It is the day when students commit to a college and send in their deposits to hold their college spot. That’s step one in the journey of paying for college.
Congratulations on making this hard decision and finding the right college fit! Here at PayForED, we know how hard it is to narrow down the criteria of the right environment, academics, and affordability. Now that your decision has been made, it is time to celebrate and take a deep breath. It might also be the time to buy that college gear so that you can proudly announce this college decision!
At PayForED, we are always trying to keep you on the right track, ahead of the college process, and help you understand how to pay for college. Listed below are a few items to be aware of like you and your child’s transition into college.
College-bound Student Enrollment Action Plan:
- Respond to your offer of admissions – make sure you understand the financial aid award letter!
- Submit your non-refundable deposit.
- Decide on housing and food service by signing the service contract.
- Sign up for new Student Orientation and register for any assessment test required.
- Make sure you submit your final high school transcript documents.
- Check your new college email and student portal regularly. Include your parents in the correspondence sent to you. The colleges expect students to take ownership, not the parents.
- Confirm FAFSA was submitted to properly structure debt.
- Understand the financial commitment of attaining your college degree.
Parents of College-bound Students Enrollment Action Plan:
- Parents make sure your child is aware that financial information such as tuition bills, registration, and orientation deadline will be sent to them. They will need to keep you updated.
- Create a parent account under the student account to get access to tuition and other college information.
- Review the financial award offer of admissions again. Any questions about loans or merit scholarships can be addressed to the financial aid office.
- If you haven’t completed a FAFSA, it is not too late to submit it. Families are not eligible for federal loans unless a FAFSA is completed.
- Parents should turn on the DRT within FAFSA for verification.
- Start investigating financing options, if necessary. Your financing options will include federal student loans, private student loans, Parent PLUS, and maybe a home equity loan.
- Investigate travel options based on the school calendar. A review in case of a family emergency should also be done.
- Review health plan coverage, especially for students that are moving further away from home.
- Consider getting a medical power of attorney and medical directive documents since your child is considered an adult in most states for HIPAA reasons.
Reviewing and Accepting the Pieces of Financial Offer for the Initial Bill
For students and parents, the Initial bill for college will arrive sometime in late June or July. Before it arrives, the colleges normally will send a letter asking which items on the financial award you want to accept.
There may be specific pieces of the award letter that you do not want your child to take. As an example, work-study may be listed but you may want to cancel due to course major or time allocation. There could also be items on the final bill that can be removed such as health insurance since the student is covered under a parent’s health plan. Proof of coverage is required for it to be removed.
I am mentioning this so that families can review their strategy for paying for college and start thinking about their payment and financing options. The financing option will require some additional work especially if you are going to use Parent PLUS loans. The financial aid office can help you with that.
Check with the college about what payment options are available and if they have any tuition installment plans. Some schools have payment plans that allow up to 10 payments in a year. The bursar’s office would be the place to inquire about this information. The first payment is usually due in August, so there is plenty of time to investigate and develop your plan.
National College Decision Day and Next Steps Conclusion
As you continue on this college journey, keep in mind that PayForED has various webinars and news updates to help you stay informed on college topics. On May 3rd we will be hosting a Way To Pay Webinar specifically to help families navigate their payment options and registration decisions.
We provide you with the necessary information to keep you organized. Sign up for our newsletter to receive a monthly newsletter as well as notices of any financial aid alerts that happen throughout the year.
If you need more support, PayForED offers multiple software solutions that assist you in areas such as making a college selection through repaying student debt. We also have a list of advisors trained in college funding and student loan repayment listed on our website if further help is needed. Congratulations on the college pick and enjoy the next couple of months of graduation, parties, and proms!