Many students are so excited about getting into a university they aren’t able to look objectively analyze their financial aid package. The truth is – most of the time it’s not as good as it good be.
Your financial “aid” will almost always include loans, and may include work study as well. Loans are often necessary to afford college, and work study is a great way to contribute to college costs, but loans have to be paid back, and work study is not always guaranteed.
Keep in mind that financial aid packages are typically most generous for freshman, and you may not be able to keep all of your scholarships every year.
For that reason, it’s crucial that you advocate for the best possible financial aid package the school can afford, especially if you can prove you are a great fit for this school.
Prepare to Negotiate
When preparing to ask for more aid, it’s helpful to think of the admissions department as the “sales” department of a college. Their primary job is to make sure there are enough students attending the school to keep the doors open. They have an interest in accepting students who have demonstrated that they will be a good fit and do well at this school – return after their freshman year, graduate on-time, and be able to get hired after graduation.
If you can make your case that you are all of those things, it makes the school much more likely to want to cut you a deal. You are exactly the type of person they want representing their institution.
Here are the steps you need to take to make your offer.
1. Prepare Your Information
Double check all of the financial information you submitted via the FAFSA and to the college to make sure everything is accurate.
If you have had a change in financial circumstance, gather details on your situation whether it be a job loss, health issue, or anything else that may have impacted your family's ability to pay for college.
Have your financial aid offer on hand, and know ahead of time what the maximum amount you can afford to pay.
If you plan on asking the school to match an offer from a competing institution, have the information ready.
2. Contact the Financial Aid Office
Call, email and send a snail mail while you’re at it. The admissions office is pretty busy so be prepared to contact them multiple times until you are able to have a conversation with someone who has the ability to adjust your financial aid package.
If this is something you know you want to do, reach out as early as possible. This will show the school that you are strongly considering them and give them more of an incentive to give you a better deal.
3. Make Your Appeal
When communicating with the financial aid office, be professional and stick to the facts. This is not the time for an emotional appeal. Remember that the financial aid office is an extremely busy place, and is interested in finding students who are a good fit for the school. Make your case as to why you would be a great fit. Include any information that helps prove your case including challenges you have overcome in your past.
You are already in the minority for even attempting to negotiate your financial aid offer and are likely to impress whoever you are speaking to for this reason alone. Be confident in who you are and in what you have to offer.
College Factual’s Cost Cutter program is going to give you all the information you need to analyze and compare your offers, as well as specific and detailed information to share with a financial aid officer to help negotiate your offer.