Is it possible to renegotiate your financial aid package?

As part our College Q & A guide, we decided to ask your questions to the experts. Here are their answers.

Reena Gold Kamins Founder College, Career & Life, LLC.

If the financial aid package you receive does not meet your expectations, you can ask for it to be re-evaluated. It helps if you have new information for the financial aid office to consider. It also helps to convey your sincere interest in the school and to be super polite. Calling a school and saying, schools X gave us Y, why can’t you will not get you very far. But, calling a school and saying that you’re really interested in attending but financially it will be difficult so is there anything more they can do or any other information you can provide that might help them, will get you closer to your goal of a new award package.

Dr. Bruce Neimeyer CEO/Partner Global College Search Associates, LLC

In most instances the answer is no. Federal and State aid are awarded to students based on strict guidelines given to schools that determines who is eligible for what. So in these instances, the schools are simply administering the aid based on those guidelines. The only “wiggle” room that aid administrators have is based on changes in the families financial situation which allows the FA counselor to alter Student Aid Report (SAR) information to assist families in qualifying for additional aid. However, there are instances where colleges can adjust other aid that is either institutional aid given to a family from the school or federal aid that is “left over” from students turning down some of these awards. This type of aid is usually college work study or loan programs otherwise know at “self help” aid. The best suggestion is to ask your school if there is any possibility for them to reconsider your complete aid package. You can do so if you have another school that has offered you better funding. Most colleges will look at those packages to determine how much gift aid and self help aid is being offered. They might try to offer you a similar package so that it comes down to you deciding to go to their college based on which one is the better fit rather than which one is cheaper. But, they may not do this as well. The bottom line…ASK! The worst that can happen is they tell you no. The best outcome is more aid for you!

Bill Pruden Head of Upper School, College Counselor Ravenscroft School

Wholesale renegotiation is not likely given the common formulas and procedures, but it is certainly possible to get aid packages tweaked and altered, for schools all have their own formulas for a piece of the process. Too, a reality of the process is that aid, whether based on merit or need is about both providing access as well as drawing quality students to the campus so the fact that a student might attend if the pot is sweetened a bit has been known to lead to a change. Too, the amount of aid available can change. This happens because in the end not everyone offered a place in an incoming class accepts it, and in turn money that may have accompanied the acceptance is also left on the table and can be redirected, used for others. That certainly impacts a school’s ability to make some alterations to original offers. However, it important to recognize that the changes that can occur at that point are not going to be wholesale, but at the same time, in the increasingly costly world of higher education, every little it helps.

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