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Federal And State Aid Scholarships And Awards
Attending college can be an exciting and enriching experience. It can also be a costly one. In addition to tuition, fees, books, and supplies, other expenses to think about include room and board, health insurance, transportation, and spending money. A combination of financial aid and other outside funding resources can help you meet college costs.
Common forms of financial aid include grants, loans, work-study, and scholarships. Some are available specifically to students with disabilities. Many students use a combination of these financial aid resources. It is important to remember that financial aid results in a partnership of the student, parents, postsecondary educational institutions, state and federal governments, and/or private organizations. Such a partnership requires cooperation, communication, and an understanding by each of their responsibilities within the financial aid process.
The financial aid office at the school you plan to attend is a good place to begin your search for financial aid information. An administrator there can tell you about student aid available from your state, the school itself, and other sources.
When Should I Submit The Financial Aid Appeal Letter
Submit the appeal as soon as possible to give the college ample time to review your request and provide you with a decision. Make sure you consider when your deposit/decision deadline isand send in your appeal letter at least two weeks before this date.
If youre deadline has already passed , its still possible to appeal on the basis of changed financial circumstances, but of course you will have less leverage.
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What To Ask To Get The Information You Need
The Fastweb Team
Need more FAFSA help? Find everything you need to help you file for financial aid here on Fastweb.
Leverage College Offer Matching
If youâve been accepted to several other schools with lower tuition rates, use it as leverage during your negotiation meeting.
“The best way to negotiate your way down to a lower tuition rate is to show a comparable school that you got accepted to and ask for them to match the offer,” says AJ Saleem, owner of Suprex Learning. “Typically, if the college is desperate for great students, then you have a chance.”
Just like rate matching when going new car hunting, using the same approach when appealing to a college may be one of the deciding factors in granting you some money off your final tuition bill.
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How Will Private Scholarships Affect My Financial Aid Award
Some schools subtract private scholarships from your financial aid award package before other scholarships and grant money is applied. Others subtract private scholarships from student loan awards or money your family is expected to contribute to your education.
Lets say you received $5,000 in private scholarships offers. Two schools have a total cost of attendance of $20,000. At both schools, you qualify for $10,000 in grants and scholarships. School one subtracts $5,000 from the $10,000 you would have been awarded in grants and scholarships. You now have to pay $10,000 from student loans, working or through cash payments on your own.
At school two, the private scholarships are subtracted from student loans and the amount you have to pay for yourself, meaning with the private scholarships, you qualify for a total of $15,000 in grants and scholarships. At school two, you pay $5,000 from student loans, working or through cash payments on your own. School two is offering you a much better deal.
Learn How To Appeal Your Award
If you have your heart set on a school that didnt give you enough aid, you can appeal the award. But enter the process with realistic expectations: A strong appeal could get you an extra few thousand dollars, but a $20,000 gap will be harder to bridge.
Your appeal is most likely to be successful if:
There was an error on your aid application.
Your familys circumstances have changed since you first applied. For example, your parent may have lost a job, gotten divorced or given birth.
You have a competing offer from another school that you can ask your dream school to match.
Contact the schools financial aid office to find out how its appeals process works. Typically, youll email the office with your request, which should include supporting documents proving your claim and a request for a specific additional sum.
If you’re already enrolled in school and need funds more immediately, ask about emergency financial aid. Your school’s financial aid office will also have guidance on how you can apply. You’ll usually need to specify an amount and provide documentation to back up the ask.
Seek Aid From Your Degree Program
Beyond the general college financial aid office, Ross encourages students to speak to the program of their degree. For example, if youre majoring in nursing, go visit the School of Nursings administrative office. Oftentimes if youre studying towards a certain major, that department will have departmental specific scholarship money, grant funds and other opportunities for students.
The most important thing is that you ask. You cant be shy when it comes to financial aid, as it is the busy body students who get the aid money. So dont be nervous, just ask away.
Take Out Student Loans
If you are still looking for how to get more financial aid money, then consider federal student loans if they were included in your award letter. Compare federal student loans to private student loans and choose the loans that best fit your needs. Both federal and private student loans offer in-school deferment, so payments won’t be required until 6 months after you graduate . Just remember that interest may continue to accrue even if payments aren’t due, so if you can make even small monthly payments, it will help reduce the overall loan cost.
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Student Loan Rates Are Rising
Apply for a private student loan and lock in your rate before rates get any higher.
The Higher Education Act of 1965 gave financial aid administrators the authority to adjust FAFSA data thats used to determine financial aid. These data adjustments are made in the event of special circumstances that either have no place for inclusion in FAFSA or that happen after its submission.
This process of appeal is called professional judgment. To have any chance, though, youre going to have to learn how to ask for more financial aid. Here are the steps youll need to take:
Negotiate Before Sending A Deposit
Dont send in your deposit before you negotiate college tuition with the financial aid and admissions offices. The timing matters. If youve already sent in your deposit, theres a good chance the school wont worry too much about cutting a deal.
However, if you work on this before the national May 1 deadline for deposits, you have a better chance. Get your numbers squared away and send an email requesting a review. Then, ask if you can follow up with a phone call or in-person appointment in the coming weeks.
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Arrange The Ask Like A Job Interview
Waltzing into the admissions office at your college of choice and casually asking for a tuition discount wonât get you taken seriously â not when thereâs hundreds or thousands of dollars at stake.
Treat it like you would a job interview call the school to schedule a one-on-one, in-person meeting with an admissions or financial aid officer or representative. Being presentable, polite and professional will speak volumes about your intent and carry your message further than your parents ever could by negotiating on your behalf.
Some experts suggest that parents, not students, should do the negotiating in sensitive financial matters, especially when it comes to terms and dollar amounts, and couching the discussion in the right direction. However, college students who feel confident in their negotiation skills and financial know-how may feel more comfortable representing themselves.
Here are some more tips on nailing the interview process.
Dont Be Afraid To Ask
The best way to receive a generous merit scholarship award is typically through scholastic achievements. However, dont be the judge and jury on whether your child will be able to receive a merit scholarship!
To put it another way, someone told me recently: Before you are accepted, you want them after youre accepted, they want you. Dont be afraid to ask! You just might find that a university will do an awful lot to get your child into their freshman class.
So, once youve been accepted and youre in the process of selecting a school for your child, send an email or make a phone call to ask about additional awards: You could get more a lot more than what was initially offered.
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When Should I Apply For Financial Aid
Asking about financial aid application deadlines is less useful than asking when the best date to apply is. For instance, you can apply for federal financial aid for the 2021-22 academic year until June 30, 2022. However, if you waited until the deadline, you likely would miss out on financial aid for the fall and spring semesters.
Instead, ask about opening dates and priority deadlines for state and college grants and scholarships. Since some aid is first-come, first-served, its best to file forms such as the FAFSA as soon as possible.
Choose An Affordable School
Paying for college will be exponentially easier if you choose a school thats reasonably priced for you. To avoid straining your bank account, consider starting at a community college or technical school.
If you opt for a traditional four-year university, look for one that is generous with aid. Focus on the net price of each school or the cost to you after grants and scholarships. Use each schools net price calculator to estimate the amount youll have to pay out of pocket or borrow.
Just because one schools sticker price is lower doesnt mean it will be more affordable for you, says Phil Trout, a college counselor at Minnetonka High School in Minnetonka, Minnesota, and former president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. For example, if a $28,000-a-year school doesnt offer you any aid, and a $60,000-a-year college offers you $40,000 in aid, the school with the higher sticker price is actually more affordable for you.
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Tips On How To Get More Financial Aid
Asking for more financial aid can feel uncomfortable, but there are ways you can approach the process to make it as smooth as possible. First, keep your letter short and fact-filled, avoiding long, emotional appeals.
Financial aid administrators dont want to hear sob stories or complaints they want data they can plug into the formula that determines whether you get more money or not.
To that end, make sure to include a breakdown of figures illustrating how much youll be falling short. Your job is to demonstrate your financial need as clearly as possible. However, dont feel the need to request a specific number instead, leave the calculating to the administrator.
Although this process might feel like a negotiation, you should avoid calling it a bargaining process. Instead, use the accepted lingo and refer to it as a professional judgment or appeal.
Even if youve done everything right, the decision to distribute more financial aid ultimately lies in the hands of the college.
Financial Aid Appeal Letter Sample
Below you will find a financial aid appeal letter sample that you can use as an outline when writing your own appeal letter.
My name is and I am a senior at in . I was so excited to be accepted to as a member of the class of .
However, as I weigh my college options, affordability is an important factor for me. is a top choice college for me. .
I am writing to ask to be considered for any merit scholarship opportunities. .
I have been lucky enough to receive the following scholarships from some other colleges:
I have also attached the actual award amounts.
Nonetheless, I want to attend to study and cant wait to study . With my degree, I want to go into .
Thank you for the opportunity to be reconsidered for additional merit scholarship opportunities. I am honored to be accepted at and hope to be a member of the freshman class.
Please let me know if you have any other questions!
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What Is The Best Reason For Challenging My Financial Aid Award
Typically colleges provide their best financial aid award to students based on the information received on the aid application, says Dean Bentley, executive director of financial aid engagement at The College Board. However, if your finances have changed since filling out the FAFSA or CSS Profile, you have a very good reason for challenging your award, he says. Schools generally offer a special circumstances form you can use to describe your revised financial circumstances.
The Worst They Can Say Is No
Before any types of admissions applications or tuition negotiations ever enter the picture, be sure that youâll be happy attending the school youâve got in mind. Thereâs no point in landing a reduced rate if itâs at a school misaligned with your academic, social or professional needs.
Make sure to follow up via email after your meeting â or better yet, through a personalized, signed letter â thanking your admissions/financial aid advisor for the opportunity, and for their time. Presenting a mature, professional image is what gets parents and students taken seriously and remembered in a positive light.
Always remember that a tuition reduction is one of those surprises that wonât come to you just by wishing for it. Negotiation is an art, but itâs also work. Youâve got to make the effort and ask.
After all, the worst they can say is “no.”
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Dont Ask For The Moon
Make it known to the school that just a little bit more aid will make a big difference in your enrollment decision, Vasconcelos recommends. In other words, dont expect to go from getting zero scholarship dollars to a full ride.
Thank the school for the package theyve put together and tell them youre ready and willing to take on your responsibility, based on what you have in savings and what you can take on in loans. But be very specific about how much you can cover realistically and how much you are short.
Most of the time were talking about relatively small moves in an offer$2,000 or $3,000, maybe, says Vasconcelos. If the college thinks youre asking for the world, theyre probably going to say no. They simply dont have the money to fully fund every student theyve accepted. But if you make it clear that a relatively small amount will make a big difference, thats when Ive seen appeals and negotiations be most successful.
Other Options For Paying For College
If your appeal for financial aid is unsuccessful, you do have other options for paying for college. First, make sure to apply far and wide to scholarships.
You could win a scholarship for various reasons, including grades, athletics or community service. Since you dont have to pay back a scholarship, its the best type of aid to help you pay for college.
After youve exhausted the search for scholarships, other gift aid and work-study programs, another option to cover a gap in funding is private student loans. Look for reputable lenders with competitive rates, like College Ave or LendKey.
Keep in mind that youll likely need a cosigner to qualify for a private student loan. Before you sign any paperwork, make sure to read over the terms and conditions.
If you arent able to secure more federal financial aid, dont lose hope. You do have other options to cover tuition bills, as long as youre careful about how much student debt you take on.
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What Happens If Your Appeal Is Approved
The process is largely formulaic and data-driven.
If your financial aid appeal is approved, it will be implemented by making a change in the data elements on the FAFSA. For example, if a parent has lost their job, the financial aid administrator will change the income and income tax figures on the FAFSA.
This will generate a new expected family contribution using the FAFSAs standard financial aid formula. The EFC will yield a new figure for demonstrated financial need, based on the difference between the cost of attendance and the new EFC. This, in turn, will yield a new financial aid package.
The college financial aid administrator can also implement some adjustments through a change to the cost of attendance. Changing the cost of attendance is more common when the students EFC is already zero, since the EFC cannot be reduced below zero.