While many colleges will soon send bills for this fall’s tuition, most won’t expect payment until late summer. That gives college-bound students and their families time to finalize financial aid details. Here are six basic, but crucial, things to know about using student loans, scholarships and more to pay for college.

1. When I take out a student loan, where does the money go?

Student-loan dollars go directly to your school and are typically applied to outstanding tuition and fees first. If there’s money left over, the bursar’s office will issue you a refund of the remaining balance through a check, debit card or electronic bank account…