College statement: Paying the bill

Dennis Kelly - Contributing columnist

Congratulations to the all high school and transfer graduates heading to a four-year university or college this fall.

Most of you have already received your acceptance and scholarship letters. These likely included information about attending the institution’s summer and fall orientations, which are designed to make your transition to college student as easy and seamless as possible.

Amidst all the fanfare and celebration surrounding your high school graduation might be the often-harsh reality of the billing statement. College can be an expensive investment, so many students might be bracing themselves for their parents’ reaction when they view the bottom line.

This article is not intended to decipher parents’ reactions but rather to assist families in navigating the next steps in the billing process. It’s only after you fully understand all the credits and charges on the bill, and your total amount due each term, when you should submit payment.

First, most students receive their bill via email notification. Students normally designate that the bill be transmitted electronically. Most billing statements are personal identification number (PIN)-protected, so students and parents will need to set up this security measure through their college of choice.

The billing statement should outline a payment summary, which includes the statement date, student ID number, current balance and due date. The statement of activity should list an identifiable list of charges and credits, and dates for each activity transaction.

Most institutions accept electronic checks, debit and credit cards. However, please remember that debit and credit card charges are subject to transaction fees for which you are normally responsible.

Other possible options might include sending a check via a postal service or call mailing in the payment stud with a check payment, but this option is becoming less of an option.

There are also payment options to consider. If you opt for an installment payment plan, make certain to ask about potential origination fees, interest charges and late payment penalties.

Of course, all institutions would prefer you pay in full and on time. Remember, payment options are a privilege and not a right so I encourage you to make timely payments.

Finally, some institutions require that you sign up for payment plans every semester.

Make sure to closely review the charges and credits so you are in agreement with the scholarships, grants and aid you receive, which, when subtracted out, should result in the amount due.

Enjoy your summer. My next column will be in October.

Dennis M. Kelly is Senior Vice President for Enrollment Management at Wilmington College.

Dennis Kelly

Contributing columnist