College costs a lot of money. Look for all different types of financial aid available for your child and your family. Start early, and use these 7 Tips to Negotiate Financial Aid:
1. SET UP YOUR CHILD FOR SUCCESS. Encourage your child to be involved in school and take on leadership roles. By preparing them for success as early as you can, they will be in good shape when it comes time to apply for scholarships. Well-rounded students with good grades and who are involved in athletics or activities usually are eligible for merit-based scholarships.
2. DON’T WAIT, START LOOKING. Don’t wait until your child is a senior to start looking at financial aid options. Guide your child to begin thinking about the scholarship process as a freshman. Research and investigate which scholarships your child is eligible for, and start a list that you can keep adding to throughout the next four years.
3. LOOK EVERYWHERE. Look everywhere for scholarships and ask your child’s guidance counselor and high school for other scholarship opportunities. Check your place of employment and place of worship. Many smaller companies or non-profits may not have the means to market their scholarships widely; overlooking them may leave precious scholarship dollars on the table. Call or contact organizations that aren’t on the internet also – they may have scholarships you are unaware of.
4. NEGOTIATING FINANCIAL AID. Stop by the financial aid office of the colleges you and your child visit or are interested in. It’s a great opportunity to learn about the process and introduce yourself and your child to the financial aid officer there so they understand your story. While financial aid officers genuinely want to help, they’re continually dealing with problems and there’s a limited amount of money. That’s why being familiar with your situation already and being able to put a face with a name may help your case, if the offer you get back doesn’t turn out as you hoped.
5. TELL YOUR COLLEGE YOU NEED HELP. If you are not satisfied with the financial aid package from your college, tell them that you need more financial help. There are no guarantees that they will be able to adjust the financial aid offer, but the worst thing you can do is NOT ask.
6. POWER OF NEGOTIATION. The purpose of financial aid is to help students pay for school – but for colleges, it is also a recruiting tool. Being able to offer really attractive scholarships and financial aid packages is an important point of differentiation from other institutions. If your child really wants to go to a school but there are some financial issues, ask the school for additional help. If they want your child, and the money is available, the school will do everything they can to make it work.
7. NOTIFY IF THINGS CHANGE. If your money situation has changed, make sure the financial aid office knows. Be as honest as possible, and don’t worry about being embarrassed if you lost your job, or have big hospital bills due to a health condition, for example. The financial aid office will try to accommodate families that are in situations like these – but they can only help if they know what is going on.
Do you have financial aid advice? Comment & share below!