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Even though colleges typically give you a few weeks or months after the start of the semester to pay your tuition and other fees, it’s still possible to miss the deadline and have a past due balance.
If you find yourself in this situation, you might be wondering how to handle it — or even if you can get student loans for past due tuition. Past due balances can have serious ramifications, so it’s important to take action right away.
Here’s what to know about past due balances and how to pay them off:
What is a past due balance?
A past due balance is technically any unpaid amount following your school’s payment deadline. Keep in mind that individual schools will have their own policies explaining when an account is considered past due, though.
For example, your school might designate your account as having a past due balance if you have $100 or more in unpaid charges.
Learn More: Student Loans for Bad Credit
What happens when your tuition is past due?
If you don’t pay off your account by the due date, you risk some serious consequences that can affect your status as a student and your finances. These include the following:
- You might not be able to register for classes. If you don’t pay the past due amount immediately, your current registration might be canceled. Plus, the school could prohibit you from registering for other classes.
- You can’t receive or view transcripts. Since your account is past due, you won’t be able to receive or view your transcripts. This makes it impossible to apply to other schools or graduate programs.
- You’ll have to pay late fees. The school might charge you monthly late fees, which could add hundreds of dollars to your bill.
- The school could send your account to collections. If you don’t promptly pay the money you owe, your school could send your account to a collections agency. This could have a negative impact on your credit and damage your credit score, which will make it hard to qualify for other types of credit
- You’ll be ineligible for financial aid. If your account is delinquent, you might become ineligible for current or future financial aid, including scholarships or grants.
- International students could lose their visas. To get a student visa as an international student, you have to be enrolled at a qualifying university. If your account is past due, your registration might be canceled, which can affect your enrollment status at the school. This might also affect being able to get a student loan for international students.
Find Out: How Student Loans Work
How to pay off past due tuition
If your account is past due, you still have options. Here are a few potential ways to get your account back in good standing:
Fill out the FAFSA to claim federal loans
Make sure you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) so you can get any federal, state, or institutional financial aid you can.
You might be eligible for college grants, scholarships, and federal student loans, which you can use to pay off your past due balance as well as future education costs.
Learn More: When You Should Apply for a Student Loan
Speak to your financial aid office about emergency loans
Some colleges have emergency student loans available if you’re facing a short-term crisis. If your account is past due and your expected financial aid hasn’t come through yet, talk to your financial aid office.
You might qualify for an emergency loan through the school that will pay off your balance and let you register for classes.
Find Out: How Student Loans Work
Take out a private student loan
A private student loan could also help you pay off a past due balance, which might be especially helpful if you’ve exhausted all your federal student aid. Private student loans typically have lower interest rates and longer repayment terms than personal loans, plus higher student loan limits.
Also, keep in mind that adding a cosigner to your loan application could improve your chances of qualifying for a lower interest rate.
If you decide to go with a private student loan, be sure to shop around and consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for you.
Credible makes this easy — you can compare rates from multiple lenders in two minutes. Plus, you only have to fill out a single form instead of multiple applications.