Tuition and Billing
When going off to college, many students worry about the cost and what it is they will be paying for over the next 2 or 4 years. Firstly, there’s tuition. Tuition is the cost of actually taking a class at a university. Classes are often charged per unit and can range anywhere from one to four credit hours, but on average a class will be three credit hours. If a university has decided to charge the student $300 per credit hour, and the class is 3 credits, the student is paying $900 in order to take one class. However, there are some schools that enforce a flat rate for the cost of tuition. Registrars have the ability to designate any certain amount, say $5,000 that would cover anything from 12 credits (minimum amount of credits to be considered a full-time student) to 18 credits (maximum amount of credits a student is allowed to take per semester).
The “fees” in tuition and fees refers to the other costs of enrolling in and attending a university or college. Fees are also used to cover the costs of general operation and the expansion of a school. Examples of university fees cover athletics, health services, student activities, and debt services (funds designated for upkeep of the Student union, football stadium, and other sport facilities). Students also pay for safety and security services – which provides trained investigators, abuse counselors (sexual or substances), and compensation for campus police. Typically there may also be a transportation fee. Many schools have their own shuttle services when they are unable to provide busing from the county. Lastly, students may be asked to pay a matriculation fee that serves to pay for the expenses associated with incoming freshmen such as commencement, convocation, student ID cards, etc.
Books are an expense that you will have in college. There are multiple ways to acquire textbooks. You can buy them from the student stores which is usually the more expensive option. You can also rent your books through the student stores to cut down costs. Other ways to buy books can be found through online sources like amazon. You can also connect with other students who have already taken the courses to see if you can buy the textbooks from them.
Meal plans are another added expense that students have to pay. Often times schools insist on the unlimited meal plan for freshman because it allows them to be able to eat as many times a day as they would like. This meal plan is costly. If you do not think you will eat that many meal plans, you can check on the school’s website to see which meal plan will be sufficient for you.
As a freshman, you have different options for room and board. Some schools offer singles for freshman. This means that you will be living in a room without a roommate. Most schools offer doubles for freshman which means that you will be living in a room with one other person. Dorms come in different options. There are hall style, which means that everyone on the hall shares a communal bathroom. There are also suite style dorms which means between 2-6 people share a bathroom joined to the rooms.
Once you receive your financial aid package, you are eligible to receive a refund check. In order to receive a refund check, your financial aid has to be more than the cost of attendance of the institution. Even if you have loans in your financial aid package, you can still be awarded a refund. It is important that you budget your money when you get the refund. Do not spend it all in one place. Think about putting it in a savings account. You could also use some of the money to pay back your loans especially if you have unsubsidized loans.
Award Letter/Financial Aid
After your FAFSA is submitted, colleges in which you have applied, will be able to send a Financial Aid Award Letter. This letter includes all details of your financial aid award package (institutional aid, grants, loans, scholarships, work study, etc.). Depending on the school you choose to attend, financial aid may vary each year. Some colleges may have an increase in their cost of attendance each year as well. You will be able to determine your estimated cost to attend, after you subtract your total award letter amount from all tuition and fees cost.
Scholarships, grants, work study, and loans are the four main types of financial aid that you can receive for college. Scholarships are monetary awards given to students without the expectation of paying it back. .Students are selected for scholarships based on various criteria such as their academic success, community service, career choice, or embodying the values of the donor of the award. Grants are funds that usually come from the government and are given to students based on financial need. For example, the Federal Pell Grant is a grant for undergraduate students with financial need determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Based on financial need, students can also qualify for work study. Those students are provided with part-time jobs that allow them to earn money to help pay education expenses.
A loan is money that is borrowed and is expected to be paid back with interest. There are two types of loans. Subsidized loans are offered by the federal government to students based on their FAFSA. Students do not have to pay interest on subsidized loans. Unsubsidized loans can be given to students that do not demonstrate financial need but students are required to pay interest fee.