dcsimg

More money for school: 5 tips for appealing your financial aid award

In a recent study from Maguire Associates and Fastweb.com, thirty-three percent of students who preferred a public education, but enrolled in a private college instead, appealed the initial financial aid offer from their college of choice. As a result, 45 percent received more aid.

Subject

"The fact that some students would switch from preferring public colleges to enrolling at a non-profit college was a bit surprising until we analyzed the data to discover that most of the students who switched got generous financial aid packages that came close to equalizing the bottom line cost," says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of Fastweb.com and FinAid.org.

Cost and quality seem to be the primary drivers of college choice, especially among the students who switched in either direction, notes Kantrowitz.

"Students who switched to public colleges did so because they couldn't afford the more expensive private non-profit colleges," he says. "The percentage getting an adjustment was a bit higher than I expected, but it is consistent with more students demonstrating increased financial need due to parents losing jobs.

Schools.com chatted with some experts who offered advice on how to squeeze those extra dollars from the schools of your choice.

 

Be honest and polite--never challenge an award.

Tip #1: Be honest and polite--never challenge an award.

A financial aid appeal is often mistaken for negotiation. Kantrowitz says it's not like a car dealership, where bluff and bluster can get you a better deal. The process is driven by documentation and information, not smoke and mirrors.

"Also, be honest, as the college financial aid administrator is less likely to grant an adjustment if he or she thinks you are attempting to game the system," he says.

Remember, too, that the colleges have the authority to request whatever information they want in order to consider an appeal, adds Kantrowitz.

"This includes asking for several years of prior tax returns, requiring you to file IRS Form 4506T to get the data directly from the IRS, and requiring you to file an amended federal income tax return if there's a discrepancy between the information on the FAFSA and 1040."

Work directly with your admissions counselor.

Tip #2: Work directly with your admissions counselor.

It's always in your best interest to develop a relationship with your admissions counselor or another contact person at the university who can go to bat for you and assist in your appeal.

"This should be someone who knows you and not just some random person," says Christopher Cussat, the former associate director of admissions at Duquesne University, a private Catholic university in Pittsburgh, PA. "If you haven't already, meet with someone in admissions and let them get to know you so you're not just a number to them. You need someone in your corner to help you appeal."

While it's best to appeal your award immediately, Cussat says if you can wait up until the school's deposit date, typically May 1, there may be more aid you could receive.

"As it gets closer to the deposit day, and the school realizes they may fall short of their enrollment numbers, they might be more willing to give you more money," he says.

Ask for any available independent awards.

Tip #3: Ask for any available independent awards.

Oftentimes, your admissions counselor can help you unearth other independent awards.

"There can be separate awards for volunteer work or awards for students who are from distressed neighborhoods or counties," says Cussat. "When all else fails, look outside the university, and do some research on your own."

For instance, Cussat says that dependent students should ask if their parents' employer offers aid to students of employees. Also, conduct research online or at your local library's foundation resource center to see what other outside grants you may be eligible for.

 

Leverage your financial aid offers from other schools.

Tip #4: Leverage your financial aid offers from other schools.

Richard Stumpf, a financial planner with Financial Benefits Inc. in Wichita, KS, who helps parents plan for college costs, successfully appealed his daughter's award and received an additional $2,500. After receiving the financial aid offers from the schools his daughter applied to, they selected the two best packages, which fortunately included her first choice.

"I spoke with the financial aid officer there and told him that while she preferred his school, another college offered a significantly better award," Stumpf says. "I asked if he could narrow the gap. He reviewed it and called the next day saying there was a $2,500 scholarship available that wasn't awarded yet."

 

Make yourself more marketable.

 

Tip #5: Make yourself more marketable.

Colleges compete to attract the best students. So it's in the student's interest to become more desirable. You can help yourself by getting better grades and getting involved in extracurricular activities.

"If you're a C+ student, have no outside activities, and just show up for class and go home at the end of the day, no school will bend over backwards to help you," Stumpf says. "But if you're a good student and are actively involved--a student who the university highly values--they'll do everything possible to get you to come there."

 

Program

  • All
  • Art & Design
  • Business
  • Communications & Media
  • Computers & Technology
  • Cosmetology
  • Culinary Arts
  • Education & Teaching
  • Engineering & Architecture
  • Health, Healthcare & Nursing
  • High School
  • Liberal Arts
  • Math & Science
  • Psychology & Counseling
  • Testing
  • Vocational & Trade

Degree/Diploma Offered

  • All
  • Associate
  • Bachelor
  • Master
  • Doctoral
  • Diploma
  • Certificate
  • Coursework

Location Type

  • Campus and Online
  • Campus
  • Online

Zip/Postal Code

Please enter valid US or Canada Zip.

Searching Searching ...

Prefer exploring options talking to our staff?
Call toll free now: 1.855.330.6938
Matching School Ads
5 Program(s) Found
University of Phoenix , Online (campus option available)
  • Partnerships with thousands of companies
  • Alliances with many national industry associations
  • Personalized career guidance
  • Job market research tools to help you explore your career of interest
Good for Working Adults
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
5 Program(s) Found
  • Average class size is 25, allowing for more one-on-one time with instructors.
  • Has a 97% employment rate among available graduates.
  • All  graduates receive Lifetime Employment  Assistance—free and forever.
  • Michigan's largest independent college.
  • Most instructors are working professionals in the fields they teach.
  • Programs are continuously updated to ensure classes are career-relevant and in sync with what's needed in the industry
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • There's still time to apply to Grand Canyon University and pursue your education. Learn more today!
  • Study on your schedule - GCU offers many programs 100% online to fit your busy lifestyle.
  • GCU offers a variety of opportunities to reduce the cost of furthering your education. Campus students may qualify for scholarships, while online students can take part in limited special offers.
  • A regionally accredited university, GCU also holds specialized accreditations and approvals for some of our core program offerings.
  • Degrees in business, education, nursing, humanities & social sciences, theology and more. Find the degree that fits you.
  • Talk to us today to learn more about financial aid and start dates!
Good for Working Adults
  • Accredited
  • Online Courses
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Accelerated Programs
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
2 Program(s) Found

Nursing@Simmons, the innovative, online nursing degree program from Simmons School of Nursing and Health Sciences prepares Registered Nurses for the next stage of their careers.

You need to have a Bachelor’s degree and RN license to be qualified for this school.

  • Online Courses
1 Program(s) Found
  • To help you put theory into practice, Alliant’s programs all include experiential learning, such as internships, service learning, and practicum experiences.
  • Engage with academic professionals who are also industry leaders
  • Innovative certifications and degree programs include experiential learning, helping you develop the leadership skills and experience you need to make an impact in your community
  • Diverse: Issues in Higher Education named us a 2013 Top Producer of Graduate Degrees for Minorities in twenty categories.
  • Accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • Online Courses
5 Program(s) Found
  • Provides a 24/7 myCampusLink system that lets students access their records, e-mail, communicate with faculty, and more.
  • Designated a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Educates with the mission to serve the needs of the local community and graduates by matching opportunities to skills.
  • Offers career education in nursing, dental, business, information technology, and more. 
  • Has 44 campus locations across 15 states, with online options as well.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
5 Program(s) Found
  • Offers more than 150 self-paced, career-relevant programs that are connected to a supportive 24/7 online community of students and faculty.
  • Profiled in many publications such as The Boston Globe, Fox Business, and  Inside Higher Ed.
  • Nearly 25,000 graduates each year.
  • Accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC).
  • Founded in 1890 in Scranton, Pennsylvania    
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses