By Carol Smolinsky, Associate Director of Student Success
Your students may be consumed with midterms and summer class registration, but we know you all are already working hard in the background to make sure their next academic year is successful. When it comes to billing and financial aid, some of you may feel like you received heaps of information during accepted student events and parent orientation sessions, only to be scrambling now wondering where those handouts went and whether the information is still up-to-date. While we have representatives answering questions in the Parent Facebook group and are always happy to help via email or telephone, we thought it might be helpful to offer a refresher of the billing and financial aid process here on the blog. Whether you are the parent of a first-year student or preparing for your student’s final semester at Emerson, we would like to share some information that we hope you will find helpful.
Where do we Begin?
Let’s start with dates and deadlines. If your student is planning to take summer courses, things are going to start moving very quickly! Some things to be aware of:
- Bills for summer will be due on April 16, 2019. If students register after April 16, the bill will be due at the time of registration.
- Financial Aid applications for summer classes are due on April 1, 2019. They consist of the 2019-2020 FAFSA and this quick summer aid application, which needs to be completed and signed by the student.
If your student is planning to be enrolled for Fall 2019, things are already in motion. First-year parents may feel as though you just finished all the paperwork that enrolling your student entails, but we promise it will get easier! For example, we do not require a CSS Profile for returning students. Additionally, the FAFSA should be a slightly quicker task this year if you completed one last year and used IRS Data Retrieval. Some things all parents of returning students should know for fall:
- The priority deadline for returning students to complete their FAFSA for 2019-2020 was March 15, 2019. Don’t panic – you can still turn it in, and we recommend that you and your student do so ASAP. The later a FAFSA is received, the longer it may take a student to receive their financial aid award for next year.
- Students were made aware of this deadline via emails, social media campaigns, and a postering campaign.
- Students who turned in their FAFSA should keep an eye out for emails from Financial Aid or notifications on ECommon requesting additional documents. A student cannot receive an award without the submission of all requested documents.
- First-Year Parents: you may start to get the creeping feeling sometime in May that you should have heard from Financial Aid about an award for your student. That is because last year, you did! Returning students are awarded later than incoming first-year students – usually late May/early June.
- Bills for Fall 2019 will go out in late June. They will be due on August 1, 2019.
- Students and authorized users will receive an email about their bill, and it will be available on the billing/payment website. Please note: you will not receive a paper copy of the bill in the mail.
Now that we have the important deadlines covered, let’s take a moment to review some important, time-sensitive information.
- Are you an authorized user?
- Students can designate anyone they want to be an authorized user on their student account. If you pay the bill, you will want to be an authorized user. This is doubly important because we cannot discuss the details of your student’s bill without confirmation that you are, in fact, an authorized user on the account. Instructions for adding an authorized user can be found here.
- Health Insurance and Tuition Insurance Waivers
- Our student health insurance and tuition insurance are opt-out programs, meaning your student must actively choose to waive them if they have comparable health coverage or do not wish to participate in the tuition insurance plan. This can be done as soon as bills are available in June. Remember: health insurance is billed once per year, and tuition insurance is billed once per semester. More information regarding health insurance and the waiver process can be found here. More information regarding the tuition insurance and waiver process can be found here.
Options for Payment
Once your student has their billing statement and their financial aid award in place, you will want to make sure you know what the remaining balance is and plan for it well in advance of the August 1 deadline. If your student’s aid award is delayed because of paperwork requests, do not worry! We do our best to keep aid awards level, meaning any merit aid will remain the same year over year (as long as your student is making Satisfactory Academic Progress) and need-based aid will only change if the student’s calculated need (based on the FAFSA) goes down. This means that, barring any academic issues or any large changes reported on the FAFSA, you should be able to estimate your student’s aid award in planning for payment.
Methods of payment can include any combination of the following:
- Outside scholarships
- If your student uses scholarships awarded to them by an organization outside of Emerson, please make sure to notify the offices of Financial Aid and Student Accounts so that they will be accurately reflected on your billing statement.
- Outside scholarships are not just available to first-year students! If your student is still looking for scholarship funds, we suggest starting their search at our private scholarships webpage.
- Online or by Mail
- More information on making a payment online or by mail can be found here.
- Tuition Payment Plan
- Payments can be split up over the course of a semester in a 5-month tuition payment plan. The first payment for the 5-month Fall payment plan is due July 1. There is no credit check required to join the payment plan, and there is no interest charged on payments. More information about the payment plan can be found here.
- Parent PLUS Loans
- If you are borrowing loans to help your student finance their education, please be aware that the federal government offers the Parent PLUS Loan. This loan has similar protections and repayment options to other federal student loans, but is entirely in the parent’s name. It requires a credit check, and interest rates and origination fees are set in the summer for the upcoming academic year. If approved, a parent can borrow up to Cost of Attendance for the academic year minus accepted financial aid. Cost of Attendance is more than the direct costs that are billed – it can include indirect costs such as books, transportation, rent, etc.
- If a parent applies for a Parent PLUS Loan and is denied, their student can become eligible for additional unsubsidized federal student loans.
- Alternative Loans
- Alternative student loans are available from financial institutions of all sizes. We encourage students and parents to comparison shop before applying for alternative loans. Things to consider would be interest rate, origination fee, repayment options, whether a co-signer is required and if so, whether there is an option for co-signer release, as well as options for forbearance if the borrower runs into trouble making payments, etc.
- We cannot recommend any specific lender or loan product to students and families. It is truly something that is unique to the family and their financial situation. We do, however, offer the ELM Select Comparison Tool to help students and families compare loan products that are available.
Planning for the Future
We encourage students and families to plan for their entire time at Emerson, not just one year at a time. In an effort to be transparent about what that means, we advise that you plan for a roughly 3 to 5% increase in billed costs per year. We are here to help you in the planning process in any way we can, from student appointments and workshops with our Money Matters Financial Education Program to answering questions or concerns regarding financial aid or billing all year round. Please feel free to contact us any time of year!