Going to college can be one of the most exciting times in a young person’s life, an opportunity to gain knowledge and broaden their horizons in so many ways. However, colleges aren’t always cheap, and even the initial financial aid may not be enough. If your initial financial aid doesn’t cover it, don’t be discouraged; experts offer advice on how to apply for additional financial assistance.
Of course, all students should start with the basics, including completing the FAFSA and contacting their planned school’s financial aid office.
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Ask for help
“Contacting a financial aid officer can be intimidating for some, but students who contact as early as possible may be given extra help than those who wait until the semester’s tuition is over – due to the availability, ”said Christine Roberts, student manager. ready to citizens.
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Share changes in family income as soon as possible
If your family’s financial situation has changed since you completed the FAFSA or received your award letters, Christine Roberts advises that you contact the financial aid office as soon as possible to begin the process of requesting additional assistance and receiving your award. resource assessment. “The financial aid office may be able to provide professional judgment if there have been changes in your family situation. This includes job loss or additional unforeseen expenses that arose outside of normal circumstances, such as a change in medical or addiction, ”said Roberts.
Most schools will have an application form for special circumstances that you will need to fill out. Policies vary from school to school, although most financial aid offices have a plan of procedures in the event of job loss and financial hardship.
If you choose to appeal, which is likely what a financial aid officer will suggest, be sure to recheck your initial aid request for errors that may have altered your aid options, he adds. it.
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Be specific when requesting more financial assistance
For no specific reason, asking for an appeal on your financial aid program is rarely successful, says Chana Charach, Chief Financial Officer of Income.ca. “You have to be specific about why you need the funds, as well as provide evidence to support that need,” she said. Supporting documents may include: invoices, unemployment benefits, termination letters and anything else demonstrating loss of income and the need for further assistance. “Remember to include information in your appeal letter, such as your job title, the terrible event that caused you to appeal, and where the money would go to help pay for your education. go to the financial aid office to provide additional help if you are an individual.
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Focus on scholarships and work-study programs
Beyond standard forms of financial aid, such as student loans and scholarships, there are many other sources of financial aid, according to John Ross, CEO of Test Prep Insight, an online education company.
“If you’ve used up your student loans and need more help… a lot of universities have grants and their own co-op programs – just ask,” Ross said. “If your school has a work study program, ask how you can get involved. Working part-time while attending school is a great way to finance your education without having to repay large sums afterwards.
Additionally, he says many schools receive federal and state grants. “There may be free money opportunities that some students don’t even know about.”
Ask for help with your degree program
Beyond the general college financial aid office, Ross encourages students to talk about their degree program. “For example, if you are majoring in nursing, go to the administrative office of the School of Nursing. Often times, if you are studying in a certain major, that department will have department-specific scholarships, grant funds, and other opportunities for students.
“The most important thing is that you ask. You cannot be shy when it comes to financial aid because it is the busy body students who get the aid money. So don’t be nervous, just ask.
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Apply for money for an additional merit scholarship
“Don’t accept an offer of admission to a school without first applying for an additional merit scholarship,” said Rachel Coleman, independent education consultant at CollegeEssayEditor.com.
“It’s entirely possible that the answer is no, and that’s fine, but you lose your influence if you accept the offer of admission without asking for more money first. Call the admissions office and say something like, “If I get $ 10,000 more in merit assistance, my parents say I can send in my enrollment deposit today,” the admissions officer will consider. seriously demand the student and decide what is in their school’s budget to get the student to a “yes”, which is their ultimate goal. “
She recommends using the tool www.collegedata.com, which displays the average aid for each university.
If you haven’t received any merit-based aid and your aid is need-based, it’s important to read the criteria set out by each school for changing their financial aid grants, she says. These criteria are published on the Financial Aid Office website and usually include circumstances that would change a family’s financial situation, such as: unforeseen medical bills, a parent losing their job, adding a new one dependent in the family, etc. Once you have reviewed the school’s criteria, you must submit a “Financial Aid Appeal Request” along with the documentation.
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Take advantage of one help offer for another
If you’ve been awarded a merit-based scholarship or award but it’s still not enough to cover your needs, you can use that offer to negotiate a better one from another comparable school, according to Svetlana Dotsenko, founder and CEO. of Lever Tutoring, a college admissions firm.
“For students who have better financial offers from comparable universities, the process has been the easiest. Several Ivy Leagues have explicitly told my students that they would match offers from other “peer institutions”. Other universities have also expressed their willingness to match the offerings of others.
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Last updated: June 21, 2021
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How to Apply to Your College for Additional Financial Aid