You may not think of a college acceptance letter as the beginning of negotiations but it can be. You can graduate college without crippling debt. LearnVest offers, “4 Tips to Negotiate Your Way to a Better Financial Aid Package” for those who want to leverage an acceptance letter to decrease their college tuition bill. With rolling admissions, you may not be asking at the exact same time as other students.
Don’t Just Show Up. LearnVest advises you to not simply arrive at the school’s financial aid office hoping to talk to someone. Instead, you should figure out to whom you should mail a letter or send an e-mail to in order to appeal the financial aid package. If the school has a formal appeals process, you should follow that. Then wait a week to follow up on your appeal.
Document Financial Hardship. It is not enough to simply say that you are having a tough time financially. You need to provide documentation of job loss or mounting medical bills.
Mention Other Aid Packages. You are allowed to let one college know that another has extended a better offer. Show proof that another school has offered you more money to see if the school you really want to attend will match or do better.
Gently Ask for More. The article quotes Shannon Vasconcelos, a college finance expert: “Make it known to the school that just a little bit more aid will make a big difference in your enrollment decision…”
As an example, LearnVest shared the story of one family—the mother knew that she wasn’t going to have the kind of income she had when they applied so she wrote to the school to let them know this, mentioning the fact that the school was her son’s first choice. The family added a letter from a relative who was an alum for good measure. LearnVest quotes Vasconcelos as saying that people may get $2000-$3000 more when they appeal but this family was able to get an additional $5000.
As you can see that is worth it to appeal a financial aid package. It also helps to consult a financial planner for strategies for pay for college.