Track the companies that matter to you. It's FREE! Click one of these fan favorites to get started: Apple; Google; Ford.



Negotiate Your Financial Aid

If you or someone you brought into the world will be going to college next year, you're probably awaiting that bulging envelope from the future alma mater. The package will include, primarily, the acceptance letter, enrollment information, and perhaps contact information for Meat, your future dorm-mate. Oh, and it'll also include your financial aid package if you applied.

Based on information you provided, the school will try to bridge the difference between the cost of attendance and your "expected family contribution" (EFC), which is how much you can be reasonably expected to fork over. The packet may include some grants and scholarships, but most aid comes in the form of student loans.

You may not be stuck with the first aid package you're offered. It's not unreasonable to ask the folks in the financial aid office to take another look, but be very clear why you think they should reconsider. Here are some possible reasons:

  • You want to make sure they are aware of extraordinary financial circumstances, such as having to care for elderly parents, outrageous medical bills, or a recent loss of income.

  • You have received a much more generous offer from another school, and you'd like to give the school a chance to match it. Some financial aid officers are more receptive to this tactic than others, but it won't hurt to try. You'll have more luck if the student is academically in the top 25% of the applicant pool.

  • The forms you submitted weren't processed accurately, and you'd like to have your EFC recalculated. It's always possible that an aid processor made a mistake, or your handwritten "$40,000" looks a lot like "$90,000." Make sure to review all paperwork for accuracy and clarity.

  • You received a onetime windfall (such as an inheritance) that skewed your results.

  • You are footing the bills that allow your other children to attend a private elementary or secondary school, or even grad school. Some schools (generally private schools) will consider taking the other tuition bills into account.

  • The student has been receiving Social Security benefits, which may have been included in the aid calculation. However, benefits end at age 18, so the student won't have that resource during the college years.

  • You're just curious about how your EFC was calculated. Financial aid officers have a lot of leeway in how they distribute the institutional (i.e., not federal) money. They often make judgments about an applicant's finances based on their experience and expertise. For example, there is more than one way to calculate a home's equity, and tax deductions might be added back to income. Ask for an explanation of how your aid was determined if you suspect a discrepancy.

For more on saving and paying for college, visit our College Savings Center or check out The Motley Fool Guide to Paying for School: How to Cover Education Costs From K to Ph.D.

Read/Post Comments (0) | Recommend This Article (0)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

Be the first one to comment on this article.

Compare Brokers

Fool Disclosure

Sponsored Links

Leaked: Apple's Next Smart Device
(Warning, it may shock you)
The secret is out... experts are predicting 458 million of these types of devices will be sold per year. 1 hyper-growth company stands to rake in maximum profit - and it's NOT Apple. Show me Apple's new smart gizmo!

DocumentId: 507142, ~/Articles/ArticleHandler.aspx, 10/27/2016 9:10:27 AM

Report This Comment

Use this area to report a comment that you believe is in violation of the community guidelines. Our team will review the entry and take any appropriate action.

Sending report...

Today's Market

updated 11 hours ago Sponsored by:
DOW 18,199.33 30.06 0.00%
S&P 500 2,139.43 -3.73 0.00%
NASD 5,250.27 -33.13 0.00%

Create My Watchlist

Go to My Watchlist

You don't seem to be following any stocks yet!

Better investing starts with a watchlist. Now you can create a personalized watchlist and get immediate access to the personalized information you need to make successful investing decisions.

Data delayed up to 5 minutes