5 Strategies For Appealing Your Financial Aid Offer

graduation-cap-311378_1280At the end of senior year, there are many things for a young student to enjoy. As they embrace the end a major phase in life and they begin to finalize serious decisions, they must break the joyous haze left behind by acceptance letters. There are students who will not need to worry about the the cost of tuition, but for many others, the cost of attendance is the biggest factor in the decision. For many, this can be enough to push a student from their dream school to another, secondary option. But, many students and their families do not know that many schools, especially private schools, can review their original aid packages and offer a little more.

If the school is able to make an adjustment, you could see an increase in your merit-based aid, or a reevaluation of need-based aid determined by special circumstances, or a change in income. Whatever your case is, you should approach your school about a financial aid appeal. Below is a short list of strategies to use as you begin this approach.

1) Do not refer to it as a negotiation.

Using the right euphemisms will play to your advantage. As Cappex publisher and vice president Mark Kantrowitz, tells US News, “Colleges don’t like that word because it sounds like you’re bargaining at a bazaar or car dealership.” First, you should approach them with your gratitude, and then ask them for a “reconsideration” of your financial aid deal.

2) Contact your school’s financial aid office.

Appeals work the best for families who have experienced changes in their financial circumstances since the first application was submitted. These changes include drastic occurrences like the loss of a job, a disability, or in tragic cases, a death. If you want your school to reconsider your need-based aid, your family will have to provide documentation. This information can later be used to recalculate the minimum expected family contribution.

3) Reach out to the admissions office.

In most instances, the financial aid office only handles need-based aid. If you are looking for an increase to your merit-based aid, approach the office of admissions. If you already have some merit-based aid in your package, you can increase this anywhere from 1,000-$5,000. It all adds up, and you are guaranteed this aid every year.

4) Use a competing offer.

If you have more enticing offers from other schools on the table, use them to your advantage. Some schools are willing to adjust your aid package to match a better offer from a different school. The merit aid the school will give you depends on the school’s endowment, but you can increase your financial aid package with this approach.

5) Don’t put a deposit down.

Do not submit a deposit, because most schools will see that as a voucher for your attendance. You do not have to commit to a school until the deadline, so you should wait to weigh all your options and ensure you’re making the best decision for your future.

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