How To Negotiate With Your College’s Financial Aid Office

Colleges typically put together a financial aid package for accepted students based on the information submitted through the FAFSA. You will receive details of your financial aid package along with your award letter. If you are lucky, your financial aid may be all you were hoping for. On the other hand, it could be far lower than you were expecting. If the financial aid package you receive falls short of your needs, don’t rush to rule out the college completely. Financial aid packages are not inflexible. If money is the only reason holding you back from attending a college, you should try and negotiate with financial aid offices for a more generous package. To be successful, you must go about it the right way.

These tips will help you successfully negotiate with college financial aid offices:

Two people standing at a desk talking while looking at a laptop.

Let Them Know Upfront How Much You Can Afford

It’s tempting to make your financial situation look desperate, but that may very well backfire. All colleges have a limited budget that they can work around. If your needs exceed what they can offer by a very large margin, they may not decide it is not worth taking the discussion any further.

However, if you are negotiating for a reasonable amount, you have a better chance of getting the additional financial aid that you need.

Let Them Know Upfront How Much More You Need To Attend

Do your calculations before your appointment or call with the financial aid office and determine how much additional aid you need to be able to attend that college. When you give the financial aid office a specific number, you are more likely to receive it, especially if that number is reasonable.

Telling the college how much you need, simplifies things for them. There’s no need to go back and forth with unnecessary discussions. They know exactly how much you need to attend their college and if they have the funds, they’d be happy to offer it to you.

Did Exceptionally Well In Senior Year? Tell Them About It

Most colleges go out of their way to reward academic achievements. If you performed exceptionally well during your senior year and have the transcripts to prove it, it’s worth bragging about your accomplishments to the financial aid office. Support this with a well-written personal statement and an additional teacher letter of recommendation to boost your chances of success.

Did You Receive A Better Offer From Another College? Show Them The Offer Letter

If your second or third choice college offered you a more generous financial aid package, use that offer letter as part of your negotiation. Let the school know that they are your first choice and the only thing hold you back from attending their school is the money. Most schools will work towards approving your request if they know you will definitely attend.

Don’t Be Demanding

If you go into the financial aid office demanding a better package, because ‘you deserve it’ or because ‘other colleges were much more generous’, you can be sure your request will be denied outright. Nobody wants to deal with a pushy individual. Besides, the college does not HAVE to increase your financial aid package. The only way you can expect to make any headway with your negotiations is by being polite, patient, and respectful with the person or persons you are dealing with.


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