Traditional financial aid packages, like grants, scholarships, and loans aren’t your only options when it comes to paying for college. Tuition financing and payment plans can help make overwhelming tuition bills more manageable and help you avoid long-term debt.
A college degree is worth it for many students, so it can be beneficial to learn how to pay for the costs of your education. If you’re searching for online colleges with payment plans and low monthly payments, this article may interest you.
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Here we’ll explore the questions: How do online colleges work with students that need tuition payment plans? What are the pros and cons of these plans? What are your options for paying for college?
What Is a Tuition Payment Plan and How Does It Work?
A tuition payment plan is a payment plan to help you pay for college. Online colleges that offer low monthly payments can help you avoid paying a huge tuition bill at the beginning of each year or semester. Instead, they may allow you to pay smaller, more affordable installments over a longer period of time.
A tuition plan can give you the opportunity to spread out your payment instead of paying your tuition all at once. For example, if your annual tuition cost is $10,000 after your grants and scholarships, you may be able to pay $1000 each month for 10 months.
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Whether the payments are broken up into monthly installments, semesters, or percentages will vary based on the school or payment plan you choose. Whichever type is used, the idea is the same: to make your tuition payment more manageable.
Tuition payment plans generally do not charge any interest but instead may have a small enrollment fee.
Payments can often be made automatically, directly from your bank account, for your convenience. Some plans may also allow you to pay by credit card, but they often charge a steeper fee.
Different Types of Tuition Payment Plans
There are 4 different types of payment plans that may be offered by your online school.
- Standard Payment Plan: A standard tuition payment plan is sort of a “pay as you go” college plan. The overall cost is broken down into smaller installments, such as monthly payments, and you pay an upfront enrollment fee.
- Deferred Payment Plan: A deferred payment plan can be one of two things. It could just be the name the school uses for its standard tuition payment plan, or it could be a slightly different variation in which you pay two or three payments on scheduled dates, rather than small monthly payments.
- Tuition Stabilization Plan: These plans are designed to protect you from future tuition increases. They will typically allow you to pre-pay for four to eight semesters at the current tuition rate. If you want to “lock in” the current tuition rate for the next 2 years, you will likely have to pay for 2 years of your education immediately. Tuition stabilization plans typically do not allow partial payments.
- Direct Bill Plan: This simply means that the school will directly bill a third party, such as your employer, for your tuition. If the third party is not covering the entire tuition amount, you will be responsible for the remainder of the tuition and must pay that before classes begin.
Every school is different, and the plans they offer may vary. It’s beneficial to research your desired school to see which plans are offered and find the one that fits best with your financial needs.
Choosing a College Payment Plan Provider
You probably won’t have to make this decision. While some schools offer their own payment plans, most use the services of outside providers.
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Most schools contract with just one provider and offer only one plan, so you won’t likely have to do any shopping around. For reference, some of the most popular tuition payment plan providers are:
- ECSI Tuition Payment Plan (TPP)
- FACTS Tuition Management
- Nelnet Campus Commerce (formerly Tuition Management Systems)
- University Accounting Service (UAS)
Just because a school doesn’t offer payment plans, it doesn’t mean they aren’t an option. If the online school you choose does not offer tuition payment plans, you can ask your financial aid office to refer you to a tuition management company that can help you set up an installment plan.
Pros and Cons of College Payment Plans
These are some of the pros and cons of college payment plans. You can check them out to see whether a payment plan is right for you.
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As you can see, there are many advantages to a tuition payment plan. If you are able to work the payments into your budget comfortably, this option may lead to great savings for you and help you graduate without long-term debt.
Why Choose a Tuition Payment Plan Rather than a Loan?
If you’re able to make a sizable payment (but can’t necessarily pay the whole tuition bill), a tuition payment plan is typically a much better option than taking on student loans.
For example, a student loan of $10,000 at 5% interest would cost a total of $12,727.86 over the course of ten years. If you opted instead to pay the $10,000 in monthly installments with a $100 enrollment fee, your total would be $10,100. That’s a savings of $2,627.86.
In addition to potentially saving you thousands of dollars in interest, payment plans can help ensure you are able to graduate debt free. That peace of mind is incredibly valuable and something you can thank yourself for later!
What Expenses Do Tuition Payment Plans Cover?
Most tuition payment plans cover only the direct costs billed by the school. These costs typically include your tuition, any fees the college imposes, and room and board if you plan to live on campus.
Books, supplies, equipment, and transportation necessary for your online education are not included in most payment plans, but your school may offer some assistance with these costs. To get more information about this, you can research your potential school’s plan requirements to learn their limitations before enrolling.
When Should I Start Looking for a Tuition Payment Plan?
Once you begin to narrow down your list of colleges and compare tuition and financial aid packages, you can consider tuition payment plans.
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It can be useful to make note of the most affordable online colleges with payment plans and what kind of schedule they offer so that you can accurately compare your options.
If your online college does not offer a tuition installment plan, you can ask your financial aid office to refer you to a tuition management company that offers independent third-party tuition installment plans.
Who Should I Talk to about Enrolling in a Tuition Payment Plan?
The main points of contact for tuition payment plans vary. If the tuition payment plan is offered by and administered by your school, then your school’s financial aid office should be able to help answer your questions.
If the school contracts its payment plans through a third party, contacting that company directly may be the best way to get accurate information about the plan. Your school’s administration office should be able to direct you to the right point of contact.
Are Monthly Payment Plans a Good Idea?
Tuition payment plans are a good solution for many students, but other students may find they just can’t work it into their budgets. It truly depends on your personal and financial situation.
If the payments are a stretch or present a financial hardship, you likely don’t want to do it. Agreeing to a payment plan you can’t afford can lead to hardship. Instead, you can look for additional grants and scholarships, talk to your financial aid office, or resort to student loans if necessary.
List of Online Colleges With Payment Plan Options
Below is a list of online colleges that offer payment plan options. You can check out each one to find the right fit for your education and financial needs.
The Academy of Art University allows students to pay tuition in monthly installments. Students can pre-pay their tuition and use the residual balance toward their installment plans.
The Academy of Art University has offered accredited online programs for over 20 years. Students can choose between a variety of degree fields, many offering BFA and MFA degrees.
The Academy of Art University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
Students at the American College of Education can choose a monthly installment plan for tuition. Installments are financed through Climb. APR varies based on credit scores, but most students don’t exceed 19%.
ACE’s programs are entirely online. The school offers degrees in education, healthcare, nursing, business, and leadership. Students can pursue micro-credentials up to doctorate degrees.
The American College of Education is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
American Public University offers students an Automatic Debit Plan (ADP) to help them pay tuition. The 16 week program requires students to pay a quarter of their fees every month. The 8 week program requires half of the tuition each month.
APU is a fully online university that offers associate degrees up to doctorate degrees. Fields of study offered include business and health sciences.
American Public University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Arizona State University has a monthly payment plan to help students with tuition and other fees. Students may voluntarily enroll, or if a student owes $500 or more at the beginning of a semester, they’re automatically enrolled.
ASU offers certificates and undergraduate and graduate degrees. Fields of study offered include communication, engineering, and humanities.
Arizona State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.
Bellevue University allows students to make monthly payments on their tuition. If students don’t pay their statements within 7 days, they run the risk of being withdrawn from classes.
Bellevue University offers completely online degree programs. Students can earn degrees from associate to doctorate. Degree programs are offered in mathematics, web development, human services, and more.
Bellevue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Boston University’s payment plan allows students to pay for each semester in 5 month installments, with plans beginning 2 months before the semester’s start. BU puts a lot of resources into designing innovative online courses that can prepare students for their careers.
Students can pursue certificates or bachelor’s, master’s, or doctorate degrees. Programs are offered in analytics, clinical research, global business, and more.
Boston University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.
Brigham Young University—Idaho offers a payment plan, but it can’t be set up until charges are past due. Students are required to set up the plan and must pay at least 10% of the total amount monthly.
The school’s online programs are rooted in the LDS faith. The school offers degrees in communication, applied health, technology, and more.
Brigham Young University—Idaho is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.
California State University—Northridge provides an installment plan for the fall and spring semesters only. Students must pay either one-third or half of their total with each installment.
CSUN offers a mix of fully online and hybrid programs. Students can earn a Bachelor’s in Public Sector Management. Master’s programs include Music Industry Administration and Instructional Design.
California State University—Northridge is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.
DeVry University offers a monthly payment plan to students who demonstrate financial need. Each plan lasts two months to cover each 8 week session. The plan covers tuition, books, and other fees.
DeVry is entirely online. Students can earn associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees. Fields of study offered include accounting, business, and healthcare. Sessions are 8 weeks long.
DeVry University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students attending George Washington University can pay for their fall and spring semesters in four monthly installments and summer terms in three installments. Payments must be set up to be withdrawn from debit accounts automatically.
GW has over 100 online programs for students all over the world. Students may pursue associate through doctoral degrees in law, health, and business.
George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
At Indiana University—Bloomington, students with balances of $500 or more may enroll in the school’s payment program through Nelnet. Students must also pay down payments based on when in the term they enroll.
IU was rated #1 on U.S. News and World Report’s ranking for online MBA programs. The school’s online programs include studies in music, public health, library science, and more.
Indiana University—Bloomington is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students at Liberty University can take advantage of the university’s interest-free payment plan. Payments are automatically withdrawn, and there’s a processing fee per semester.
LU is a faith-based college offering online bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees. Students can earn degrees in fields like social work, divinity, sports management, and more.
Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
Oklahoma State University provides a monthly payment plan to help students who are on a budget. Students don’t pay interest as long as their payments are on time, but they are required to pay a processing fee each semester.
OSU offers undergraduate and graduate degrees with 16 week courses. Students can pursue degrees in fields such as sociology, management, and dietetics.
Oklahoma State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Students at Pennsylvania State University may pay their tuition in four installments for fall and spring semesters or three installments for summer semesters. Penn State charges a processing fee per semester for this service.
Penn State offers over 175 online degrees and certificates. Students may pursue associate degrees through doctoral degrees in fields like engineering, nursing, and more.
Pennsylvania State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Students at Rutgers University can pay their tuition in monthly installments through Nelnet. This program charges a processing fee each semester and a 2.8% service fee for card charges.
Rutgers offers online bachelor’s degrees in nursing, business administration, and labor and public relations. It offers master’s programs in public administration, liberal studies, and information.
Rutgers University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Thomas Edison State University allows students to pay per credit instead of paying for an entire semester in one lump sum. Edison students may pursue certificates or associate, bachelor’s, or master’s degrees. Students can choose from areas like nuclear engineering technology, entrepreneurship, and human resources management.
Thomas Edison State University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
The University of Florida doesn’t currently have an installment plan for tuition payments, but it does allow for incremental payments. Students using this plan are charged a processing fee and a hold is put on their account until tuition is paid in full.
UF offers 4 year degrees across 24 majors. Graduate students can study aerospace engineering, musical education, and more.
The University of Florida is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
The University of Maryland Global Campus offers installment plans for previous and current terms. Payments are interest-free, but students must pay a processing fee each semester to use this plan.
Students at UMGC can earn degrees from the associate level all the way up to the doctorate level. UMGC offers degrees in fields like public safety, data analytics, and more.
The University of Maryland Global Campus is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.
Students at the University of Minnesota may enroll in the school’s installment plan for fall and spring terms. They must have at least a $300 balance and must pay a processing fee each semester to use this plan.
UMN courses are online or hybrid and undergraduate and graduate programs are available. Degrees are offered in fields such as acting, construction management, cultural studies, and more.
The University of Minnesota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
The University of North Dakota doesn’t currently offer an installment plan, but students who are late can make payments on their bills. These students’ accounts are placed on hold until everything is paid.
UND has been offering distance education since 1911. Students can get bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degrees in fields like aviation, behavioral health, and more.
The University of North Dakota is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
Getting Your College Degree Online
Choosing to start your education journey online can be an exciting time. By exploring the various online accredited universities that offer monthly payment plans, making your dream become a reality may be more affordable than you thought.
Online education can help offer you the flexibility needed to make a schedule that works with your lifestyle. This can also help you work and afford your monthly payment plan. You can get started toward your education goals today by researching schools that offer tuition payment plans that fit your needs.