How Special Circumstances Can Affect Your Financial Aid Package

If you need more money to attend your dream school, take these five steps in order to renegotiate your financial aid package.

By Sydney Nikols | February 17, 2017

Many schools will work to match or beat financial aid offers from other institutions.
Photo: Thinkstock

If your financial circumstances have worsened since you received your aid package, don’t panic -- you may be able to renegotiate with the school you would like to attend. Colleges like Carnegie Mellon University and Union College are known for offering students more money if their circumstances have taken a negative turn. These circumstances can include events like a parent losing a job, a family being hit with unplanned medical expenses or a salary earner passing away, as well as other tragedies or setbacks. The earlier you state your case, the better chance you’ll have at gaining a positive result, so take these four steps as soon as possible in order to write an effective appeal asking for more financial assistance.

You can always work towards receiving a good education in spite of your financial setbacks.

1. Gather your materials.

In a recent New York Times article, Kelly O’Brien, director of financial aid at Trinity College, suggested that students’ appeals be “written, quantified and documented.” In other words, you should state your case in writing, include hard numerical facts in order to back it up and attach supporting evidence. While you’re building your case, remember to…

2. Choose your words carefully.

When writing your appeal letter, avoid confrontational phrasing and words like “negotiate” or “bargain.” Instead, choose warm, approachable words like “request” and “reconsider.” Financial aid administrators are more swayed by facts than they are by emotional pleas, so be clear, concise and friendly.

3. Request a specific amount of additional money.

Rather than simply asking for more money, tell the school exactly how much more cash you will need in order to afford tuition, fees and other expenses. And if another school offered you a better financial package, then you should…

Tell the school exactly how much more cash you will need.

4. Use another offer as leverage.

Many schools will work to match or beat financial aid offers from other institutions. If another school offered you more money, include the details of that package in your appeal. Explain that the other institution offered you more assistance; however, you’re passionate about the school to which you are writing and believe that it’s the best fit for you. Assure the school that you plan on attending as long as you can get the extra money you need.

5. Remain patient and calm.

Once you’ve made your appeal, all you can do is patiently wait for a response. And if you don’t get the answer you were hoping for, don’t panic -- there are plenty of good options to consider if you wind up not being able to afford your dream school.

Now that you know how to renegotiate your offer, you can work towards receiving a good education in spite of your financial setbacks.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

10 Reasons to Take a Gap Year
When to Start Thinking About Financial Aid
What To Do If You Can’t Afford Your Dream School
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