There appears to be an abundance of stories regarding financial aid in the media these days. With the May 1st deadline on the horizon and the unstable economy, financial aid is a hot topic. Sure a college education is an investment, but many families are struggling with the idea of taking on substantial amounts of debt in order accommodate the goal of higher education. While every family’s circumstances are different, it is important to take all of your options in to consideration. Here are some guidelines, from the media, to consider as you ponder your final decision in the next two weeks.
Make sure you know what you are looking at. There are two articles I came across that will shed some light on reading a financial aid package. USNews.com published a great article on all of the things you need to take into consideration when reading your financial aid package. From comparing different figures from different schools to how to think about debt upon graduation, this article covers it all.
USNews.com also published an article on just how to read your financial aid package. It provides examples of real financial aid letters from a few different institutions as well as markings that let you know what you are really looking at.
How to Ask For More Money
The most recent trend in financial aid articles includes information on how to ask for more money. NYTimes.com ran an article last week that talked about “getting a better deal”. Also, the CBS Morning Show recently ran a Financial Aid 101 segment that offered advice on how to ask for more money.
One word of caution, some schools are not going to be willing to play this game. There are several factors that the schools are going to take into consideration when they are looking at your situation. Unfortunately, one of those factors is going to be how bad they want you as a student. Reality is that every school wants the “best of the best” in their freshmen class. If you have higher SAT scores than the average admitted student or you offer some sort of unique talent, then you may have some leverage.
Some really competitive schools are not going to reconsider aid offers at all. Why? Because they don’t have to. They will have no problem making their class, so they won’t need to do anything extra to help seal the deal.
Most schools will reconsider you package if your financial situation has changed since you submitted your application. Losing a job or acquiring some unforeseen expense may help you obtain more financial aid.
If you are really struggling with where to attend because of financial aid, then in some cases it really does not hurt to ask. That way at least you will know that you did everything you could to even the financial score with the colleges you are trying to decide between.