Opinion: University should release tuition bills earlier

With only a few weeks left of summer, students are starting to think about all the details that go into starting the semester at a large university. With that comes the daunting task of figuring out how to cobble together tuition with newly-won scholarships, loans and grants. All that to understand what comes out-of-pocket. 

However, for the second summer in a row, I just found out what I will owe USC in just a few short weeks. In this way, I urge the financial aid office to publish our bills on Self Service Carolina earlier in the summer. 

Though financial aid is tallied and open for students to see at this point, the overall bill and break-down of costs has not been made available for each student. With that comes the uncertainty of whether university refund checks will be issued or whether there will be an additional balance due for students to pay upon starting classes. 

With all the uncertainty, students have no idea how to plan financially for school. Deciding whether to save up or buy that new laptop they really need is a decision that often depends on the price of tuition. Since all students pay different amounts depending on housing status, meal plans and class hours, there is no formula to use to calculate the totals. 

Additionally, some students depend heavily on refund checks to pay for housing and food, but refund checks will not be issued by the university until Aug. 17. However, most students’ rent is due at the beginning of August.

It is plain to see that if students do not come into school with a fallback amount of money at their or their parent’s disposal, one may get into a terrific bind paying dues. This could all be helped if financial aid could publish students’ individual bills towards the beginning or even middle of the summer so there is a set amount to save up or budget for. This could help students and parent know if they need to apply for private loans early on and all kinds of other big financial decisions that require time and thought. 

The timeline available on sc.edu states that bills are published July 25 and tuition is due Aug. 15. With not even a month’s notice of the bill and having to pay it, I don’t think it is too much to ask that students have more time to make the huge financial decisions that can affect years to come. 

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