Even though it’s the end of April, some high school students might still be on the cusp of making their final college choice. One thing that could push the decision over the edge is financial aid. If only this college would offer a little more, you think, I would definitely go there. But is it possible to request more financial aid? It is really late in the game, but in some cases the answer is yes. Here are some steps you can take which could finalize the decision of where you attend college this fall:
• Change in Financial Situation: If there has been a dramatic change in your financial situation since you filed the FAFSA, you must contact the preferred institution immediately and explain what happened. Events such as a parent’s divorce, a medical emergency, job loss, or natural disaster that caused financial hardship for your family could be understandable reasons for increasing financial aid. You must be prepared to provide supporting documentation to bolster your case, but it could make a difference. Check the college’s website to find out if there is an appeals process or contact the financial aid office directly.
• Talk to a Financial Aid Officer: When talking to a school’s financial aid representative, try not to get emotional or defensive. Clearly state your case and ask if there is anything else the school can do to help you. They should have a much better idea of how many students have accepted their financial aid packages, and will know if there are any additional funds available that have not been allocated. Ask if you are eligible for any of this money, or if there are any new scholarships or grants available that were not considered in your initial award package.
• Don’t Waste Their Time: You should not be trying to talk to all of the colleges on your list, just to try to “negotiate” a deal. This just wastes everyone’s time. If there is a school you are truly interested in attending, and money is the only factor holding you back, that is the one you should contact. Politely explain that another school has offered you a slightly better financial aid award package, but you would really prefer to attend their institution, if some financial flexibility is available. Make sure that they know you would be able to work, and that you really want to be a student at their school.
Don’t forget to look at your own resources, especially if the amount is relatively small. Could your parents, grandparents, or other relatives help you, can you get a job over the summer to earn a little more money, have you fully followed the scholarship route, or would it make sense to take out a private student loan that could bridge the gap? If you really want to attend a certain college, it is worth the effort to make the financial side of the equation work.