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Paying Your Fall Tuition Bill – 4 Steps to Start the Semester Stress-Free

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June 24, 2023


Two Vermont students walking on campus

The fall semester is starting soon. You’re excited about your new courses, meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and even living on campus. But before you start packing, the most important task on your “to do list” is paying your fall tuition bill. Bills are overwhelming at times, especially when you don’t have the money on hand. 

But that’s where student loans like VSAC (Vermont Student Assistance Corporation) come in. Seven out of ten Vermont families need to borrow to pay for education costs. And VSAC loans are designed to be low-cost options to cover financing gaps and get your balance down to zero. 

Simple Solutions for Paying Tuition Bills 

With over 50 years of input from families that VSAC supports, we understand that paying for college can be complicated ... and stressful. There’s a lot to consider: 

  • Financial Aid and scholarships 

  • Loan Shopping 

  • Choosing a major or career trade 

  • Hoping for the best rates 

  • Deciding on a repayment plan 

  • Worrying about paying loans back over the years. 

VSAC makes covering your higher education cost simpler by providing a one-stop service that includes planning resources, financial aid, 529 savings accounts, and loans. We want you to reduce your costs for education and training and borrow only what you need.

These four steps will get you started.  

1. Find your fall tuition bill and “due by” date 

Tuition due dates vary, but a lot of schools require payment for the fall semester as early as August 1. Most schools send an email with a portal link letting you know your bill is available to view and pay. And payments can be sent digitally, via check, and sometimes with cash once you're on campus. 

Emails typically go to the attending student’s address, so once you’ve been accepted to a program or have chosen your courses, check your email periodically to stay on top of your tuition bill. If you haven’t received an email or mailed letter, call your school’s financial aid office. Emails can sometimes go to spam, and late fees can be costly, so be proactive in paying your bill. 

2. Approve your fall tuition bill 

Tuition bills show charges for courses, fees, living expenses, and subtract any credits from scholarships or grants that will reduce the amount you owe. Don’t accept the bill that’s sent to you, confirm everything matches up with what you had in mind for the semester. Mistakes can happen, so always do the following: 

Check your charges 

These include tuition, room and board, and fees that are mostly unavoidable (student activity fees, lab fees, specific program fees).  

Look for unnecessary fees

Some tuition bills include health insurance, meal plans, and fees that don’t reflect what you need. You may already be on your parent's health insurance, and if you’re living on your own and plan to cook at home, you shouldn’t be paying for a meal plan. If anything seems unnecessary, call your school’s financial aid office, and have it removed from your bill. 

Confirm your financial aid “credits” 

Your financial aid award details the amount of “credit” the school will receive by way of grants and scholarships. Every student’s first step should be filling out a FAFSA. And, if you’re attending a Vermont college or career program, apply for VSAC Vermont Grants 

If a grant or scholarship you received isn’t listed, check with the financial aid office to cross-verify eligibility and receipt of the funds. Sometimes you may need to take additional steps to have the aid applied to your bill. One notable aid is work-study. If you qualify for work-study, how will the money be paid to you or the school? In advance, or once you’ve completed your work requirements. 

3. Develop a payment strategy and stick to it 

After your financial offers have been distributed, you might still have a balance on your fall tuition bill. Additionally, don't forget about costs for transportation, books, and personal items that aren’t part of your tuition bill. Here are two important questions to ask when planning to pay your tuition bill. 

How much can I cover using savings and current income? 

A savings account like VSAC’s 529 college savings plan can reduce your borrowing needs. Although these plans are meant to be longer term investment options, consider a principal plus interest plan to set aside monthly funds. In this manner they become almost like a tuition payment plan. The VT529 plan: 

  • qualifies for a 10% Vermont state income tax credit on qualified annual contributions for higher education. 

  • can be used at eligible higher education institutions throughout the U.S. 

  • has a low minimum contribution; open an account with just $25! 

Also, ask the financial aid office about tuition payment options. Whether through a part-time job or financial support from family and friends, you may be able to make monthly payments during the semester to pay off your remaining fall tuition bill.  

4. If you still have a funding gap, be “loan smart” 

If you still owe money after the aid, scholarships, savings, repayment plans, federal student loans are your next consideration. 

Choosing the right student loan makes college more affordable. 

If you receive federal student loans, borrow the maximum amount because they traditionally have low rates and favorable repayment options.  

Most importantly, remember that with any loan offer, you can always accept less or decline the offer completely.  While it’s tempting to say “yes” to everything offered, just because you can, that doesn’t mean you should.  

Additional funding after federal student loans is available in the form of a federal parent loan or private loan. 

Compare carefully. Student loans aren’t created equal. After you’ve maxed out on federal student loans on initial funds that came easily, dedicate time to comparing loans from private lenders, including, nonprofit lenders such as VSAC. Three considerations for all loans are: 

  • Interest rates 

  • Fees 

  • Repayment options 

All three will impact what you’ll pay for the life of the loan. 

A few things to also keep in mind: 

  • Rates can be variable and fixed, but borrowers rarely qualify for the lowest rate 

  • Know your rate before signing a loan 

  • If you don’t get the rate you expected, cancel your application and shop around. 

A few percentage points can make the difference and drastically increase the amount you pay back. VSAC offers fixed interest rates, so you’ll always know what you’re expected to pay during the life of our loan. Additionally, we don’t charge origination fees and offer repayment options to fit your needs.   

Vermont families have entrusted VSAC as their source for information, counseling, financial aid, and loans to achieve education goals for over 50 years. Learn about VSAC’s student and parent loans for undergraduate and graduate education, and let’s work together to get your higher education experience funded. 

Still have questions or need more information? Contact VSAC at Or speak to a Vermont-based counselor Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at 800-226-1029.