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Appealing a Financial Aid Offer

Your student has gotten into the school of his or her choice but your financial aid offer is less than you had hoped for.  This is an all too common scenario. There are some steps that you can take to try to increase need based aid.  Here is what parents can do when appealing a financial aid offer:

  1. Contact individual schools regarding what their procedure is for appealing an award.  Some might prefer that you complete an online form while others might want a letter.
  2. The more specific you can be regarding your circumstance, the better.  For example, explain any financial setbacks.  And mention, if relevant, that the money needs to stretch for more than one child.
  3. Let schools know if a parent has lost a job or has had hours cut.  Ideally, you will have a letter from an employer stating the salary cut back.
  4. Also, mention other extenuating circumstance.  For instance, because of the coronavirus crisis, you may now be supporting other relatives.
  5. To support all your reasons for more aid, provide as much documentation as you can, including copies of bank statements and medical bills.
  6. What you shouldn’t do is include in the letter how special your child is and how the college would be lucky to have her/him.  And don’t use the term negotiate.  Financial aid staffers hate that.  You can, however, mention briefly why this institution is a great fit for your teenager.
  7. Another approach is to play schools off each other. If you have better offers from colleges, contact the school your child really wants to attend and explain this reality.  State that your child really wants to attend this college, but finances are tight and other schools have been more generous.  Offer to scan your child’s No. 1 institution and competing offers.  Also, try this with other schools on your child’s list.
  8. It is also definitely possible to negotiate merit awards (non-need-based aid) at many schools.  Colleges that will be inclined to bump up the offer will be institutions that are not meeting their freshman deposit goals.
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