3 Ways for your students to get financial aid from their dream college

MIC recently published an article that discussed how March s one of the most stressful times of the year for high school seniors as this is typically when they are notified if they have been accepted to colleges they have applied to and also how much financial aid they will be receiving.

Some research suggests students are actually leaving free money on the table by not closing the loop on certain forms. NerdWallet estimated that 2014’s high-school grads missed out on $2.7 billion in grant money by not completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, better known as the FAFSA.

the cost of attending college has continued to rise, according to the College Board, average out-of-state tuition and fees at public schools totaled $35,370 for the 2016-2017 school year. Private schools cost even more.

“The average amount of money left on the table per eligible high school graduate who didn’t apply was $1,861,” NerdWallet‘s Victoria Simons and Anna Helhoski wrote. In some states, the amount was even higher.


Here are the three major ways your students can make their case — and how to do it.

1. Show that their financial situation has changed.

The easiest way to negotiate more financial aid for college is by making the case that your student’s parents financial situation has shifted since they filled out initial paperwork.

“The FAFSA is based on the prior year’s tax returns. If something has dramatically changed during that year (medical hardship, loss of parents job, etc.), the first thing to do is update their forms. Then, write an appeal letter — typically less than a page, addressed to the college’s financial aid office — outlining how their financial situation has changed.

Since awards are typically based not on how much money their family makes, but how much they can feasibly spend, they could be entitled to more aid.

2. Play to a college’s competitive streak.

If your student is still in the same financial shape as they were when they applied to college, they still might be able to get more money,  particularly if their school of choice really wants them to attend. Since colleges often see regional schools as their main competition, they can write to the college and tell them they have got other options in the area. Don’t underestimate how competitive some schools are with each other. If school “X” offered a $10,000 scholarship and school “y” only offered $5,000 your student should not hesitate to tell school “Y” what was offered by school “X”.


3. Circle back for leftovers.

A final tactic your student can try is following up with a school once they have a better idea of who’s actually coming. The best time to do this is right after the deposit’s due. If enrollment numbers are trending down their could magically be additional financial aid dollars available.

There are a few reasons why this could happen. Maybe the college offered someone a full scholarship who decided to go elsewhere, or maybe they overestimated how popular they’d be with the current batch of high-school seniors. There’s no guarantee, but there might be some extra financial-aid dollars lying around. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

If your student can’t get more aid, all might not be lost. They might be able to lower the number of credits they need by taking summer courses at a local community college, where the cost of tuition is likely to be cheaper. If they are still worried about paying for college, they might also consider deferring and taking a gap year, which would allow them to work and save more money for tuition.

Lastly, remember that some kinds of federal student loans start accruing interest as soon as they take them out, while others wait until they graduate. Putting earnings from a campus job toward those interest payments will give them a head start on paying off their loans once they graduate.

Here is a link to the original article on MIC: https://mic.com/articles/171612/didn-t-get-enough-financial-aid-from-your-dream-college-here-s-how-to-get-more-money#.8iJN34q0K