Student Loans for Past Due Tuition

Updated on April 10, 2024

At a Glance

  • Missing the due date for repaying a loan or credit results in becoming past due, leading to penalties and fees.
  • Past due tuition payments can have consequences, including course registration cancellation, loss of financial aid eligibility, and potential visa status issues for international students.
  • Options for addressing past due tuition include paying it yourself, seeking last-minute scholarships, applying for a personal loan, or exploring emergency student loan programs and private student loans.
  • If the tuition bill is sent to a collection agency, understanding the situation, knowing your rights, and working out a payment plan are crucial.

There is nothing worse than traveling to the United States to get your education only to find that you cannot cover your tuition bills. Past-due tuition can have all sorts of dire effects, including getting your classes canceled or losing access to student aid in the future.

But just because you don’t have the funds on hand doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to pay your tuition. This article discusses the consequences of past-due tuition and explores options for finding emergency funding.

What Does Past Due Mean?

When you take out money from a financial institution as a loan or credit, you’re expected to repay the borrowed amount by a certain date. When you miss your loan due date, you are now considered Past Due on the bill. This is irrespective of whether you were required to pay the lump sum in one go or in monthly installments. When you face a past due amount on your account, a fee might be levied as a penalty. Some providers will let you enter a grace period which can range from 10 to 30 days during which there’ll be no late fee involved. When there’s a past due on your payment history for a sustained period of time, it may affect your credit score.

How Overdue Tuition Balances Might Affect You

Overdue tuition isn’t something you can simply ignore. You will start feeling the consequences quickly, and they may be permanent. See the following section for an idea of how not paying tuition may affect you.

Your Current Course Registration May Be Canceled

The first consequence of not paying your tuition might be the cancelation of any current classes you are registered for. Your school will place a hold after you miss your first payment. Cancelation of your courses usually comes after missing multiple due dates, and you will receive multiple notices of impending cancelation. Getting your courses canceled means whatever work you put into those classes is lost, and you will not receive a grade or credit.

You May Be Unable to Register for Future Courses

Once a hold is placed on your account by your school, this hold will prevent you from registering for courses in the future. You will likely be unable to sign up for any classes until your account is current and you have paid any tuition you owe. This will prevent you from obtaining your degree.

You May Become Ineligible for Future Financial Aid From Your School

While it depends on the specific policy of your school, many schools will also bar you from receiving any financial aid if you have unpaid tuition bills. Your tuition debt may be transferred to a collection agency, which will attempt to recover the funds. Without financial aid, many students are simply unable to continue their education due to rising tuition costs.

You Could Lose Your Visa Status

Oftentimes, the visa status of international students is dependent on being currently enrolled in school. If you miss multiple due dates for your tuition payments while you have a hold on your account, your current courses will likely be canceled, and you won’t be able to register for future classes. If you are not enrolled in school, and cannot be in the future, then you may lose your student visa status.

What to Do If You Have Past Due Tuition

If you’ve missed some tuition payments and fear the harshest consequences for your education or visa status, don’t panic! There are steps you can take to obtain the funds needed to avoid getting your classes canceled and losing your visa status. See the following section for some options to cover past-due tuition payments.

Pay It Yourself

The first and most obvious option for covering past due tuition is to simply cover the cost yourself with cash or credit. However, most students who are already past due likely can’t afford this option. The average cost of tuition for in-state students at public colleges was $9,410 and $34,410 for private colleges in 2018. These amounts are typically beyond the resources of the average international student.

Furthermore, most immigrant students in the U.S. lack a credit history, which leads credit card companies to limit the credit they are offered. This means that, even among students who qualify for credit cards, their credit limit is likely too low to cover the entirety of their tuition bill.

Look Into Last-Minute Scholarships

If you cannot pay your past-due tuition yourself, you should consider last-minute scholarships. Each scholarship has a due date for applications, with a winner being decided on a specified date as well. Since scholarships run year-round, you can apply for scholarships with due dates in the immediate future. If the date that the winner of the scholarship is announced before the due date of your tuition payment, then you can perhaps use the funds from the scholarship to cover tuition.

However, scholarships are also competitive and difficult to win, so this is not a reliable means of paying your tuition. Another problem with last-minute scholarships is that, even if you do win, there is no guarantee that the funds will be disbursed before the due date of your tuition payment.

Apply for a Personal Loan

Finally, you can use a personal loan to obtain the funds needed for your past-due tuition. Unlike scholarships, personal loans are typically processed very quickly, and the entire process from the application to the disbursement of funds typically takes only a few days. Personal loans are much easier to obtain than scholarships as well, so they are ideal for students who need quick funds to avoid paying the entire cost of tuition upfront.

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Are There Emergency Student Loans?

If you’ve crossed the past due date and have no idea how to pay the required sum back, emergency student loans could help you out. Here are three ways to get out of financial trouble in such cases.

Claim Federal Student Loans

The first thing you should do is seek help from the government. For helping out students in monetary need, the government often runs various federal aid programs. One of them is a federal student loan. To apply for this, you need to fill out the FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The application will be screened by the student aid officers and the loan (and loan amount) will be approved based on the evaluation.

You can do this from the student account you have with your college. Once you log in with your credentials, you’ll find the financial account section. This should contain information regarding the available aid you can claim. If you’re an undergraduate, you can claim an amount as high as $7,500 per year for dependent students; $12,000 for independent. For graduate students, this can be $20,500 per year.

Find Emergency Student Loan Programs

Colleges in the U.S. are coming out with more and more financial programs to help students during a time of financial need. In some colleges, you can obtain help through grant dollars, and in other cases, you can get these funds in the form of student loans. As per the current estimates, three out of four public colleges have some type of emergency student loan program in place. The emergency program varies from college to college. Usually, there’s a small processing fee involved.

Get a Private Student Loan

If you were not approved for federal financial aid or loans, you’re left with the option of seeking help from a private lender. To get a private student loan, you need to have a good credit score and likely a co-signer. Having a co-signer is optional if you have a good credit history. As usual, you’ll be required to submit an application after consulting with a loan officer. The disbursement of the loan amount is often swift and smooth. Then you’ll enter into an agreement to repay back your loan.

But it is advised to proceed with caution with private loans and only take them as your last option. These loans often come with high rates and high penalty fees.

What If My Tuition Bill Was Sent to a Collection Agency?

When bills go unpaid for consecutive months, most likely, they’ll be forwarded to a collection agency. When you receive notices from such agencies, it’s important to deal with them the right way to avoid having the issue become worse.

Get the Facts

First and foremost, you need to understand exactly what is happening and what your options are. As a student, you have the right to ask for debt validation and a verification letter. You should get it within a maximum of five business days. By reviewing these documents, you’ll get to know everything about the loan default, what it means for you currently, and what your options are.

Know Your Rights

As a loan borrower, you have certain rights on your side. Some states are even more stringent when it comes to student loans. This is part of the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. By going over the verification letter and said act, you’ll know what collectors can and can’t do to you while collecting their fees.

Find Your Option

Lastly, you need to find a way to get out of this trouble. Mostly, you’ll need to connect with the collection agency and settle on future payment plans. But under no circumstances should you give the lender access to your bank account. This is against the law.

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There is no reason to let a school take you out of your classes or have you risk losing your visa status because of past due tuition. You may be able to qualify for a personal loan, which would allow you to quickly solve the problem and spread out the cost of tuition over several years. Explore immigrant-friendly lenders (like College Ave) and get quotes for an idea of whether or not you qualify, and what rates you could expect.

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