Decision made, deposit paid. What's next?
Congratulations! You and your child made it through the college admissions and decision process and you've paid the deposit to secure your child a place in the freshman class. What's next?
With all the campus visits and agonizing over the pros and cons of each college behind you, it's time to move onto the next step in the process – paying the college bill – and MEFA is here to help.
To begin, make sure you read all of the communications you receive from the college, especially emails to the student. Keep an eye out for important information on such things as:
- Student loan processing instructions
- Monthly payment plan details
- Health insurance waivers
- Student and parent orientation programs
Most colleges send their fall semester bills in late June or early July and generally require bill payment three weeks to a month later. Your college's student accounts office can provide more specific dates so that you know when to expect the bill and can line up a payment strategy accordingly. Review the bill carefully and check for the following:
- If your child is already covered under a family insurance plan, did you waive the school health insurance charge and has that charge been removed from your bill?
- If the student is living on campus, are the room and board charges correct?
- Has all of your child's financial aid, including private scholarships, been applied?
Most college bills are due in late July or early August. Make sure your bill is paid on time to avoid late fees and problems moving into the dorms. After maximizing your past income (savings) and present income (cash on hand), you may find you need to utilize future income in the form of a family loan to pay the remaining balance due. Research options that are available through MEFA as well as your college's lender list and do a comparison to find the loan that's best for your family.
Most family or parent loans offer instant credit decisions, but give yourself at least two weeks before the bill is due to apply so you have time to complete all of your loan paperwork online and the college has time to certify the loan before the bill due date. Apply for what you think you will need for the full academic year. You can always reduce the loan for the spring semester if needed.
MEFA understands that sending your child to college and paying that college bill is a stressful time. We have many resources to help you through the process. Our blog is filled with great information on the next steps, and on June 2nd and July 12th we are hosting webinars on comparing loan options. Register here for these webinars. We also have experienced college planning counselors on hand to help you! Call us at (800) 449-MEFA (6332) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Most importantly savor the last few weeks of summer and family time before your student heads off to college. We look forward to working with you as your child embarks on this new adventure.
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