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.

"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
  • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef, Project Runway.
  • A team of about 4,000 faculty members are focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
  • Academic programs available in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
  • Program Coordinators work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
  • Over 50 campus locations nationwide.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
5 Program(s) Found
  • Designated a 2014 Military Friendly School by Victory Media.
  • Offers programs in health care, information technology, and financial services.
  • Awarded over $43,000 in scholarships to active duty military personnel.
  • Graduates may return and retake classes and receive tutoring or refreshers, free of charge.
  • Accredited by the Council on Occupational Education (COE).
Show more [+]
5 Program(s) Found
  • Regionally accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).
  • All allied health programs include an externship, clinical rotation and/or fieldwork practice, for student experience.
  • Accredited business of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) since 1967.
  • 7 California campuses in Citrus Heights, Pleasant Hill, Pomona, Sacramento, San Jose, San Leandro, and Stockton.
Show more [+]
Good for Working Adults
  • Flexible Scheduling
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits
3 Program(s) Found

Our overriding purpose here at ICBAS is to provide our students with the finest education available within the beauty industry, while at the same time offering a nurturing environment. With that in mind, we hire only top-notch, academically- and professionally-trained instructors who teach the latest techniques and advancements as they unfold in the beauty industry. Our campus provides a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and all of the best available tools to ensure that our graduates not only succeed at this, their chosen profession, but that they have the most enjoyable experience possible while they study and work to attain their goals.

5 Program(s) Found
  • Programmatic accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Respiratory Care (CoARC), Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), and the American Veterinary Association (AVMA).
  • Programs include an externship, allowing students to gain field experience.
  • Institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
  • 13 campuses located across Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, and Washington, with online options.
Show more [+]
  • Financial Aid
5 Program(s) Found
  • Admission is on a rolling basis, with programs starting each month.
  • Accepts Military Tuition Assistance (MTA) and will assist in getting required documents toan Educational Service Officer.
  • Lecture classes will have no more than 120 students. Lab settings will typically have 6, 9, 12 or 24 students to one lab instructor.
  • Career Development Department helps students edit resumes & research the job market. It also maintains an updated record of potential employers in the industry.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
4 Program(s) Found
  • Many AHI programs can be completed in 10 months or less.
  • Students take one class at a time, and can access their courses online 24/7.
  • Approved for the Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program.
  • Has a Clinical Placement department that works to place students in clinical sites throughout the country.
  • Institutionally accredited by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES).
  • Licensed by the Commission for Independent Education Florida Department of Education: License #3255.
Show more [+]
  • Online Courses
  • Financial Aid
  • Transferable Credits