Can I Negotiate My Financial Aid Award?

You’ve been accepted to your dream college.  But when you receive your financial aid award package, your heart sinks.  The cost appears far too great to enroll.  Don’t give up.  You may be able to negotiate with the college to get a better financial aid package.  Here are a few steps you can take:

  1. Call the school and find out whether the college has a process in place for negotiating financial aid awards.Some colleges have a form on the website that can be downloaded.
  2. Write a letter to the school and explain your situation.If the school is your top choice, but the cost is the primary reason preventing you from attending, let them know that.Don’t be afraid to share your award packages from competing schools.
  3. If there are additional factors that may not have been communicated on the FAFSA, let the college know about those issues.Factors that should be considered include family health problems, changes in parental employment, a new baby, divorce, etc.If possible, be specific and show the math of your family’s financial situation.
  4. Don’t hesitate to ask.While it may feel uncomfortable to negotiate, there simply is no risk in doing so.Financial aid offices are experienced at handling questions and discussing financial aid issues.The college won’t be offended, and negotiating a better financial aid package won’t cost you your seat at the college.Colleges will not deny admission if you ask for them to review your financial aid award.
  5. Ask if there are any new financial resources or programs that have become available.Sometimes scholarships are left unclaimed or donations are received that may open new opportunities for you.