Finding out you were accepted to one of your top schools and then finding out that you can’t afford to study there is an emotional roller coaster that you may be preparing yourself for, but it can still be extremely upsetting. If you have your heart set on studying at a particular college, but the school is not offering you as much financial aid as you need, then there are ways that you can negotiate for a better award. It is not at all uncommon for colleges to underestimate the financial need of their incoming students, which is why most schools have an official appeals process that can be very useful to high achieving students from low-income families. If you are interested in negotiating with one of your top schools, here is how to increase your financial aid award.
Make Sure There is an Official Appellate Process
Not every school will give you the chance to appeal your financial aid award, so you want to make sure that you don’t waste your time trying if it’s not a possibility. For all of the other schools, you should be able to find out how to appeal your award on the financial aid page of the college’s website. You want to bear in mind that most private schools will have a lot more flexibility when it comes to negotiating your financial aid than most public schools. In general, they just have more control over the movement of their funds.
Open a Conversation with the School
In most cases, you will need to make an appointment with the college so that you can discuss your situation over the phone. Their website should inform you of all the deciding factors that you need to be aware of so that you can cover all the bases. Remember that you don’t want to approach this conversation like an argument or a negotiation; you want to just explain your situation as succinctly as possible and listen for further instructions. If you are too pushy, you will not get very far.
Share Offers from Other Schools
Without getting too aggressive, you should definitely mention some of the other offers you’ve been getting from other schools. Even if University of Maryland is not offering you as much money as the school you’re appealing, you want to look at the percentage of the tuition, rather than the total dollars and cents. Fifty thousand dollars goes a lot farther at a school that charges $12,000 per year than it does at a school that charges $40,000 per year.
Write a Formal Email
Once you have spoken with the college and made your story known, you want to make sure that you follow up with a formal email. You don’t want to take up too much more of their time, but you do want to make sure that you put all of your main points in writing. This way it will be easier for them to compare appeals from a large sample of students and determine who is most in need. In the end, you have to be open to realizing that there may actually be a lot of students who need it more than you do.