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5 Things You Need to Know When Negotiating for Financial AidCollege is one of the largest fiscal investments that you will ever make into your future. It’s strange to think about it that way since you’re just out of high school, but that is exactly what it is: an investment. So even though you might think it’s just out of your reach, try negotiating your financial aid package to get even more money. Did you know that was possible? It certainly is. However, we don’t want you making any mistakes when it comes to your financial aid, so we put together a list of five things you need to know when negotiating a new financial aid package from your school. Keep them in mind when going through the process and who knows? You might very well get the majority of your expenses paid.
Don’t Be BrashIf you are appealing a financial aid package from your school, remember that being bold and brash in walking into the office at nine in the morning asking for more money isn’t going to help you. If you’re wondering why it’s because you generally won’t get the help that way. You see, most of the time, financial aid officers at colleges can’t change needs-based financial aid unless it goes through a process dictated by that school. They won’t be able to do anything for you the first, or even second, time you ask for help, so research your school’s appeals process, fill out all the forms, and continue to call back for updates on your request.
Be Specific About the Need for More Financial AidAsking for an appeal on your financial aid package without a specific reason rarely goes anywhere. You have to be specific about why you need the money, and you have to provide evidence for that need. That means bills, unemployment benefits, termination letters, and anything that can show that you have had a loss of income and require more aid. When writing your letter for the appeal, remember specifics: about your job, whatever the unfortunate circumstance was that led you to the appeal, and where the money would go to help you make it through college. By being specific, you’ll lay out a nice path for the financial aid office to rustle up some more aid for you.
Use LeverageLet’s put financial aid aside and talk about merit-based scholarships or grants. Say you got a better aid package from one school but it wasn’t your top choice. Did you know you can use that package to leverage your top choice into giving your more money? It’s true. Just by asking your top choice for more money and showing them the award letters you received from the rival school might net you more money for your education. This is because schools are all competing with one another to attract the best students, and if you receive a better package from a rival school, your top choice might be willing to put up more money to have you attend their school.
Don’t Ask for EverythingIt goes without saying, but asking for an institution to foot the entire bill for your education isn’t going to work out for you. Schools simply don’t have the money to fund every student’s entire education. The best thing you can do in this situation is to be realistic with the school about how much you can actually cover and how much you positively need. If it’s less than $5,000, the school will work with you; anything more than that is going to cause some problems in negotiations.
Negotiate Like a ProNegotiating is like playing chess: you need to know all your moves and the moves of your opponent. Be courteous, relaxed, and honest about your circumstances with your financial aid officer. Remember that they can’t work miracles, but they’ll help you as much as possible. This doesn’t mean be a pushover, however; if you need help paying for college, ask for it. Show the school your awards, merits, and accolades. If you have rival offers from other schools, mention it and be specific about how much more they’re willing to give you in the package. Know your worth, and use it when negotiating. That’s the only way to show the school that you want to attend, but they’re going to have to compromise by giving your more financial aid.
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