Paying for college can be tricky. The cost of tuition at the typical public university is rising at several times the rate of inflation. Meanwhile, the cost of tuition at the typical private university is increasing at an even faster clip. If current trends continue, it appears likely that the average middle-class student will be unable to afford to attend college without taking on crippling amounts of student debt.
In fact, the average college student already leaves their educational institution with over $20,000 in outstanding student debts that may come with crushing interest rates and aggressive repayment schedules. This figure takes into account junior college and four-year college debt loads. For students who attend elite private institutions, the average debt load is often several times this relatively modest amount.
Many schools permit their students to enroll in classes on a provisional basis. In other words, these institutions won't place "holds" on students' accounts in order to encourage them to settle their balances before the beginning of each semester for which they're enrolled. Normally, schools require students to make a good-faith effort to settle their balances before the semester begins.
As long as their loans have posted to their accounts, students who rely heavily on loan disbursements may be permitted to attend classes. The remaining out-of-pocket balances on their accounts may be due at a specified date in the future. In some cases, schools may even treat these balances as short-term loans that accrue interest while the student remains in school and may be repaid upon graduation.
If you graduate from school with a significant burden of student loan debt, you'll be obligated to repay your student lender according to an agreed-upon timetable. It's important to note that you'll be subject to different rules and requirements for any direct tuition debts that you incur. If you owe money directly to your former institution after withdrawing from classes without graduating, the institution may be unwilling to release your transcript. In effect, they'll hold the document "hostage" until you've settled the debt that you owe.
This practice can create serious logistical headaches. If you're trying to apply to another school and need the credits that you earned at your former institution, you'll need to settle your account before doing so. In the absence of hard cash, you may be able to use a high-limit credit card to make this payment. You may also be able to use an open-ended student loan for this purpose.