Ron Lieber in the New York Times has some tips for students hoping to appeal their college financial aid packages before making the final decision on where to enroll in the fall.
A change in a your financial situation holds the best chances for a successful appeal.
Your best shot with an appeal will come from a change in your family’s financial circumstances since you applied for aid. Possibilities include job loss or other reduction in income, new health expenses, death of a parent, disability of a family member, nursing home costs, natural disasters or parental credit woes that make borrowing impossible.
Adjusting need-based aid may be a more straightforward proposition, but that’s not always true since need-based awards are often based on a ‘student’s academic merit’.
- Do not call your appeal “renegotiating” or “bargaining”. It is a request for reconsideration or review.
- Your request may hold more sway if you are a strong candidate for that school, one who would help improve their profile of admitted students.
- The student rather than the parent should initiate the appeal.
- ‘Appeals should discuss why a family can’t afford to enroll their child in our College.’ (Occidental College)
Some schools automatically match offers from similar schools.
Cornell instantly corrects itself if you’ve got higher need-based aid offers from other Ivy League schools or M.I.T., Duke and Stanford; it will match that offer, no questions asked.
Carnegie Mellon appears to be acting similarly, noting on its site that the university has “been open about our willingness to review financial aid awards to compete with certain private institutions for students admitted under the regular decision plan.” …
Go for it.
Based on some feedback from colleges, Lieber seems to suggest that the odds are not bad that an appeal will result in increased aid.
The worst that can happen is that the financial aid office says no …