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Should I Negotiate My Financial Aid Package?

collegemoneyJust got this question from a reader and I thought it best to respond here since it is one of the more common questions I receive.

When you talk about negotiating your financial aid package it kind of cheapens your college experience because it sounds like you are wheeling and dealing on a used car lot. You will never be able to compare the value of your education to that of a used car but it is possible to look at the transaction with a similar approach.

The first thing you want to do is establish a trigger point that you feel would require you to negotiate your financial aid package. For some families the trigger point is just the mere fact that they didn’t get the amount of financial aid or assistance in which they were planning. For other families the trigger point is reached when they get an extremely generous financial aid package from one college and not the other (and they were kind of hoping to go to the “other” college).

Regardless of your trigger point, you should always drop a call to the admission office or the office of Financial Aid at the school of your choice and see if there is anything else they can do. The worst response that you will get is “NO”. However, a better response you can get is “Let us look into it”. The best response you can get is “You know what, I am glad you brought this to our attention. We agree your student is more deserving and due to some oversight they did not get the Presidential Award for $10,000. We will get that applied today!”

From experience, I can tell you that the 1st or 2nd response above is probably going to be the norm. The important thing to remember is that if you don’t ask, you more than likely will not be able to garner anything extra in the form of scholarship assistance.

As your student is going through the college search process, they will be interviewing with admission counselors across the country and it is very likely that important information will be brought up in one interview and not another. This information (or lack of information) may be the driving force for one school to provide a larger financial aid package verses the other. So, when you get drastically differing financial aid offers, it doesn’t always mean that one school is less generous than the other. The “more generous” school may have just gotten something out of the interview process that the other did not.

So, if for some reason you receive a large financial aid package from one school vs. another, be prepared to send a copy of that award to the school that you are negotiating with. It will definitely help them when they are researching your situation and trying to see if any additional funding is available.

Hope this information helps…

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