Paying Your Second Semester College Bill

Many students find that paying college bills after the New Year can be very difficult for several reasons. First, many families find themselves strapped for cash after the holidays. In addition, you have probably been using your cash, savings and student loan money to pay for first semester college expenses and you may be starting to run out of summer savings, depending on how well you stuck to your college budget.

You don’t want to come back to school after Winter Break to find a huge college bill in your mailbox and no way to pay it. Here are some tips that may help you pay for second semester expenses:

  1. Use Your Time Off Wisely

    While at home with your family, try to find some time to update your college budget with your parents. See whether circumstances have changed and whether your parents will be able to start or continue to contribute to your living expenses monthly and to assist you with paying your tuition bill. If your family’s financial situation has changed drastically (unemployment, loss of home, illness) since you last received your award letter, you’ll likely want to contact your school’s financial aid office and see if they can reevaluate your situation. If you can secure seasonal work while you are home, this will help you earn some extra cash for your second semester expenses such as food, rent and entertainment.

  2. Fill Out Your FAFSA

    Remember, you will need to complete your FAFSA every year after January 1st if you want to receive federal student aid for the next school year. If you are a dependent student, your parents will also need to complete the FAFSA with you. If you have completed the FAFSA before, you will only need to fill out a renewal each subsequent year.

  3. Update Your College Budget

    After the first semester ends, you’ll want to review your college budget to see how well you did. Did your expenses align with your budget assumptions or did you overspend in certain categories? You might want to update your numbers using our Monthly Budget Calculator to help you plan your upcoming college monthly expenses.

  4. Check Your Loan Amount

    Now that you have a better understanding of your expenses, you’ll want to make sure that you have borrowed enough in student loans to last you for the rest of the year. Student loans can help you pay for books, tuition, living expenses, lab fees and more. Your award letter should detail how much you are eligible to borrow in federal student loans. If you still need more after maximizing federal loan amounts, you can research private student loans. If you already took out a private loan for the academic year, but feel that you did not borrow enough, contact your lender to see if you can increase your loan amount. But remember to only borrow what you need.