It may seem a little early to start thinking about getting bills from DU, but understanding financial aid disbursement and learning about payment plans now will help you determine a strategy to cover any amount you may owe in the fall. By planning ahead, you won't have to worry about finances when you arrive on campus, and can instead enjoy the much more exciting parts of starting college—like moving in to your residence hall and registering for classes!
When to Expect Your University Bill
Once you know your housing assignment in mid- to late-July, the DU Bursar will mail you an estimated bill. On this bill you will find your housing charges for the year, estimated tuition and fees and the financial aid expected to pay to your account. Once you receive this document, we recommend using it to complete our estimated billing worksheet, which will help you determine either the amount you will owe to DU or what you will receive as a refund (more on that later).
After you register for classes during Discoveries Orientation, a new bill will be generated by the Bursar with your actual charges. Then, in all future quarters, an electronic bill (known as an ecoBill) will be sent to your email about 4 weeks before the beginning of the term. If you want, you can have another copy of your bill sent to an additional email address (your parent, for example). Learn more about ecoBills from the Bursar's website.
What exactly does "disbursement" mean?
"Disbursement" is just a fancy term we use that refers to the date your financial aid "pays in" (so to speak). On the disbursement date of each quarter, your aid—including all loans—will automatically pay to your DU student account (not to you directly) and will be applied to the current charges on your University bill.
(Work-study, if you were awarded it, does not pay to your student account, however. Instead, you will receive a paycheck every two weeks for the hours you worked. Student Employment will send you more information about work-study later this summer.)
You probably remember that when you received your financial aid award letter, your aid was split up into 3 equal amounts (one each for fall quarter, winter quarter and spring quarter). There's a reason for that! We are required to disburse aid "evenly over your terms of enrollment." We assume that you will be enrolled for fall, winter and spring quarters, which means you'll get a bill for each of those quarters. So, instead of all of your aid disbursing in the fall, we split it up to help cover each bill you receive throughout the year. (By the way, we treat the summer quarter separately from the rest of the year. So, if you decide you want to take classes over the summer, you'll just need to submit a short financial aid application in the spring to let us know.)
When is disbursement?
The upcoming fall quarter will work a little differently than the rest of your time at DU when it comes to the disbursement of your aid. Because of federal regulations, we cannot disburse aid until you are officially enrolled in classes. So, your financial aid for fall will not pay to your student account until you register for classes during Discoveries Orientation.
For all other quarters you're enrolled at DU, your bill will be due 10 days before the first day of classes for that quarter. On that same day, your financial aid will disburse to your student account, as long as you have completed all of your requirements. So, with the exception of your first fall quarter, your bill's due date and your financial aid disbursement date will always be the same. Review the dates for 2014-2015 on our website.
Financial aid refunds.
What if the amount of financial aid that pays to your student account is more than your bill? You'll receive a refund for the difference. Refunds are typically generated by the Bursar's office 2-3 days after disbursement. They will be sent to you via mailed check, unless you sign up for direct deposit, in which case those funds will be deposited directly into your bank account. You can use your refund to pay for your books, supplies, personal expenses, or any other costs you may incur while at DU!
A note about Parent PLUS loans:
If your parent borrowed a Parent PLUS loan, any refund generated will be sent directly to your parent via mailed check. However, if your financial aid (without the PLUS loan) is greater than the bill, those excess funds will first be refunded directly to you (the student). Then, the additional PLUS loan amount will be refunded to your parent unless otherwise requested. If your family wants to have the refund from a Parent PLUS loan sent to you (the student) instead of the parent, just contact us.
DU has payment plans available!
What if you still owe money after all of your financial aid has disbursed? Consider a tuition payment plan. The DU Bursar offers flexible payment plan options that will spread the cost of tuition over two payments each quarter. If you are interested in signing up for a tuition payment plan, the estimated bill you will receive in July will help you determine which plan and payment amount is right for you. Remember that utilizing a payment plan can reduce the amount of loan money you have to borrow!
We know that billing and disbursement can be confusing. So, if you need help determining how much you might owe to DU or the amount you can expect to receive in a refund, please contact our office!
This is the last of the Financial Aid 101 emails we currently have scheduled for this year. We hope you have found them informative and that they have helped make the financial aid process a little easier for you and your family! Next week, we will be sending a survey asking for feedback on the Financial Aid 101 email series and the other communication you have received from our office. We'd love for you to share your opinion!
From all of us in Financial Aid, welcome to the DU community!
Want to review past Financial Aid 101 emails? Check out the archives!