Paying for college can be rough for any student and if you’re relying on financial aid to help you through it then you’ll want to make sure you get as much help as you can. Many students may not be aware that it can be possible to negotiate financial aid awards given out by colleges. If you want to do this, however, you have to make sure to be on the ball and ask as soon as possible as colleges only have a limited amount of resources to go around. If you’re considering asking for more help from a college you want to attend, here are some things that can help streamline the process.
Know the process. Find out when and where you need to start making an appeal. When you know the details of the process, it will be a whole lot easier to start making the contacts and getting together the documentation you’ll need.
Talk to financial aid advisors. These individuals are often the ones in charge of making the big decisions about financial aid offers, so set up a meeting or phone call to initiate contact and to express your interest in asking for more aid.
Make your case a strong one. You’re not going to get the help you need if you can’t make a strong case for why you need the money. Be willing to share details of your financial circumstances, especially if there have been changes since you first applied to school. Some colleges may be understanding and will offer additional help to encourage you to attend their school.
Show other offers. If you’ve gotten better offers of financial aid from other schools, but want to try to get a similar offer at your top choice school, there’s no harm in asking. Don’t be shy about showing what other schools are willing to give you and asking for a bump in aid from your school of choice.
Understand when you have a better chance. Private schools often have more money to go around when it comes to aid packages and can be better places to try to negotiate. This doesn’t hold true for Ivy League and highly selective schools, however, which have plenty of students who would be willing to take your place if the cost it too high for you. Additionally, if you’re a less than stellar student, a school probably isn’t going to compete with other schools to let you in.
Always follow up. Don’t simply make your case and forget about it. Follow up with advisors and decision makers at the school to ensure you stay on their minds and that they let you know their decision as soon as possible.
While some schools simply might not have extra aid to go around, it never hurts to ask if you’re in financial dire straights and still want to attend a great college. Who knows, you might even get a better deal than you ever though possible.