By now, many students are starting to receive their admission letters and, if applicable, financial aid award letters. It’s always a good idea to sit down with all admission letters, merit scholarship awards, and financial aid award letters and calculate the cost of attendance for each college. Keep in mind that many colleges have “sticker prices,” which need to be considered, especially if specific merit scholarships are only eligible for just one year. Colleges are businesses. There are strategic ways to enhance college admission chances, and there are strategic ways to strengthen the possibility of receiving scholarship money. Understanding financial aid and college admissions help is available to Brentwood, Franklin, and Nashville, TN students.
Families are in a much better position if they begin educational planning as soon as possible.
A financial aid appeal is an opportunity for families to explain or disclose financial circumstances to the financial aid office that may not have been accurately represented on the FAFSA (or the CSS Profile, if the school requires one). Remember: Financial aid and merit scholarships are two different things. An appeal for financial aid is not a negotiation for a merit scholarship. More on merit negotiations in another post.
If you intend to appeal a financial aid award decision, it will be important that you reach out to each college financial aid office separately. Some colleges allow you to do this through their financial aid website. Other colleges have an email address for you to use.
Extenuating circumstances that might result in a reconsideration of your financial aid award package includes:
* Change in income (i.e., job loss, child support, health issues)
* A one-time income increase that was reported in the calendar year reflected on the FAFSA
* Unusually high medical expenses
Circumstances that likely will not impact your financial aid award letter includes:
* Early retirement by your choice (not your employers)
* Unusually high charitable donations
* High mortgage debt
* Activity fees for other children
* High credit card debt
* Unwillingness to borrow money/use a lender
Colleges will likely require you to document these issues and provide an explanation as to how your new situation is negatively impacting your finances.
If your financial aid award amount is not enough, you may want to consider applying for private scholarships. There is so much money out there that goes unclaimed each year. As a college admissions coach serving Brentwood, Franklin, and Nashville, TN students, I see students awarded scholarships every year. The money is out there…you just must know where to look and invest the time into preparing compelling scholarship applications.