If your child is currently a senior in high school and planning to go off to college in the fall, you are probably facing some tough decisions right about now. At this point, your child has most likely heard back from all the colleges that they applied to, and now knows not only if they have been accepted, but also what the college is willing to offer in terms of grants and scholarships. Before ruling out a college because of a high price tag, have you considered actually asking for more money?
If you are in this position, the first thing that you need to do is take the time to understand the financial aid award letter, and all that it entails. You want to maximize the amount of free money, minimize loans and the ultimate net out-of-pocket expenses. Remember, you don’t need to accept everything that is offered, you can pick and choose the items that you would like to accept.
There can be a number of valid reasons to try and appeal a college’s offer. The first reason would be if something in your situation has changed, financially speaking, since you submitted the FAFSA. If, for instance, you are now unemployed, or your income was reduced from 2016 to 2017, or you had large medical expenses in 2017, these are key reasons to appeal. Remember, colleges are not aware of your full financial situation unless you make them aware of it. It’s always best to error on the side of telling them the full story, in case that can make more aid available to your student.
Another great argument would be if your student has multiple better offers, from similar colleges. Meaning, a similar college offered more in the form of need-based grants or academic merit scholarships than the college your student is hoping to attend. You should make the college aware of these facts, and in some cases, the college may match the other college’s offer.
Keep in mind, most of the time you are going to be looking at a relatively small change in the offer, maybe a few thousand dollars. Also, don’t expect a college who didn’t offer a merit scholarship, to match another college’s $25,000 per year scholarship, that is probably unrealistic.
Remember, it never hurts to at least ask the college for more funds; the worst that can happen is they say no.
This story was sponsored by Dan Maga with American College Funding. If you are interested in a free consult to see if Dan can help with your student’s negotiation, please reach out to him via e-mail or phone at 847-920-9680 to schedule a meeting at his office in Wilmette.