University of Virginia

Paying college tuition bills

Your son or daughter has ‘overlooked’ the tuition invoice that came by email, and now it’s due. In a hurry, you have them set you up as an authorized payer so you can pay the bill online.  You go online and pull out your credit card to pay the bill and wait, what’s this about a Service Fee???

Yes, most every college will charge somewhere around 2.5% – 3.0% if you want to pay by credit card.  That’s huge (and ridiculous).

But they do give you another option – enter your bank account information. You can do that but before you jump at that, remember those headlines you’ve seen about online hacking. Target, Home Depot, Anthem, the Federal Government…it’s not to say that your information is not safe, but make sure you take that risk into account.

One possible way to mitigate it and still use online access (remember, you can always mail a check if you have time) is to have a College Account at your bank. You can use that account information and not have to share your primary checking account information.  This can offer some level of practical security. You would transfer money from your primary account to the College Account and then pay the invoice.

Of course, you can have your student handle that too and deposit the money into their checking account – there are a number of ways to solve the problem. But don’t pay the credit card fee, and don’t jump at the chance to give your checking account information until you’ve thought about the alternatives.