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How to Ask for More Financial Aid


Financial Aid Negotiation, Financial Aid AppealsIf you’re the parent of a high school senior, you’ve likely completed the FAFSA by now. And if your child applied to any private colleges, you may have also completed a CSS/Profile.  So congratulations!  The most difficult part of the financial aid application process is over.  You can now sit back, relax, and let the money roll in, right?  

Wrong! Did you know you can ask for more financial aid?

While most families take a passive approach to the financial aid process, accepting whatever aid colleges offer (or don’t offer), they may very well be leaving thousands of dollars on the table.  I encourage every College Coach family with whom I work to remember the final step in the financial aid application process:  Going back to colleges and asking for more money.

“What?  I can do that?”

Absolutely!  And you should.  Oftentimes, colleges have more flexibility within their financial aid offers than you would think.  And what’s the secret to getting an increased offer?  Amazingly, in many cases, all you have to do is ask. 

How to ask for more financial aid: appeals vs. negotiations

At College Coach, our college financial planners counsel families on how to best approach making requests for additional financial assistance.  These requests tend to fall into one of two categories:  appeals or negotiations.

  1. Financial Aid Appeals.  A financial aid appeal is a request for additional assistance based upon special financial circumstances a family might have.  Perhaps you’ve experienced a recent job loss, last year’s income was artificially inflated by a one-time gain, or you have excessive non-discretionary expenses, like medical or elder care.  Circumstances like these are not reflected on the FAFSA, and are great reasons to request a reconsideration of a financial aid offer.

  2. Financial Aid Negotiations.  Negotiation, in contrast, is not based upon any special financial circumstances, but on how attractive a student is to the schools to which he has applied and what offers he may have received elsewhere.  Remember that the college application process is a two-way street:  while your child is competing with thousands of other students for acceptance at the college of her choice, colleges are also competing with each other to attract the most qualified candidates to their school.  If your child receives a better scholarship offer at one school versus another school, feel free to share that better offer with the school your child really wants to attend and ask if there’s a way to narrow the cost gap to make her attendance more feasible.  If your child is a particularly attractive student to the school in question, the school may be willing to increase their offer in order to lure your child away from the competition.

Whatever tactic you employ to request additional financial aid, there is no reason not to make the request.  The worst a college will do is say “no,” and at that point, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether that particular college is worth the price of admission.  With the right approach, however, you’re likely to hear a “yes” from one or more colleges, putting a more affordable college education within reach.




What if you have a student w a very good ACT (27) (28 super-score) 3.3gpa and you want them to be able to attend the college they were accepted to, we do not qualify for financial aid, we simply are not going into debt for college, or allowing him to ?
Posted @ Tuesday, April 15, 2014 10:09 PM by Stacy Rakestraw
If the price of the student's preferred school seems out-of-reach, you can attempt one (or both) of the above strategies: appeal for financial aid based on special financial circumstances that you have or try to negotiate additional merit scholarship funding based upon better offers that the student has elsewhere. These strategies are not guaranteed to get you more assistance, but they often do. Once you have requested additional assistance, and you know the school's bottom-line price, you basically have 3 options to pay the bill: pay out of savings, pay out of your income, and/or borrow (or combine all 3 strategies). If you choose not to borrow, that leaves your savings and income to work with. While most families do not have enough in savings to finance the entire cost of college, perhaps paying out of your income on the school's monthly payment plan will make its cost a bit more palatable. Another option would be to look for private scholarships to help finance some college costs (though it would be extremely unlikely to be able to finance the entire cost of college through private scholarships). See some of our posts on "Finding Scholarships" (on the right-hand side of the screen) for some tips. And finally there's the option of attending a less expensive school. While it feels tragic at the time for the student not to be able to attend their first-choice school, I've found that most students who end up at a "fall-back" school end up loving it and being grateful for the decision they made (which saved them a whole lot of debt). Best of luck!
Posted @ Wednesday, April 16, 2014 8:49 AM by Shannon Vasconcelos
When asking for more aid/ merit awards 
should we call or email ?
Posted @ Tuesday, April 07, 2015 6:04 AM by maryann
It is usually best to put your request in writing (email is good). That way, it gets to the right person, and they can act as your advocate in the process. Having said that, I would follow up with a phone call a week or two after submitting the email to check on the status.
Posted @ Tuesday, April 14, 2015 1:33 PM by Shannon Vasconcelos
My daughter is set to start her junior year at college. The problem is now we dont have enough student aid to pay and we cannot get a loan because of past problems. Is there any way my daughter can get a loan for college. She has a couple federal loans now. It seems like we cant get help from anywhere. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Posted @ Tuesday, July 28, 2015 10:54 AM by Thomas Higgins
Most private education loans available from banks allow the student to be the primary borrower of the loan. However, they will almost certainly require someone with an established positive credit history to co-sign for the loan, since young students tend to have no real credit history. Parents usually co-sign for their child's loans, but, if your daughter has anyone else in her life willing to co-sign, that would certainly be an option. Also, please see our prior blog post on options if a parent is denied a Federal PLUS Loan ( The government does allow a student to borrow an extra $5,000/year in her name in this circumstance. Best of luck!
Posted @ Tuesday, July 28, 2015 12:53 PM by Shannon Vasconcelos
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