We have put together three quick tips to help you understand financial aid award negotiations.
Tip #1: Understand the Principle Terms for Negotiation
Before a negotiation can take place, it is first necessary to review the SAR or Student Aid Report which indicates the EFC or Expected Family Contribution. This number when coupled with the school’s true cost (COA or Cost of Attendance) and the financial aid award offer from the school provide the key details to understanding the fairness of the award.
The final detail that must be taken into account is what the school has provided in the past. By this I mean, what is the percentage of loans that the school offers versus grants and scholarships. Seeking out this information from a reputable source will provide context to the fairness of the award.
Tip #2 Detail Special Circumstances and Qualifications in your Negotiation
In life, circumstances occur beyond the control of the student and family. It is these special circumstances that often provide for the best justification for an increased award, regardless of whether the student is under awarded.
It is also helpful to note honors, activities and awards that help the student stand out.
Tip #3 Make Your Case in a Letter
Family’s every year will negotiate in-person with success but much like an effective editorial in your favorite newspaper, cases are best made in writing. Letters allow for the financial aid office to take time to make a decision rather than making a decision on the spot or after a quick meeting.
From a risk standpoint, it is a lot easier to make your best case with all the details you want to convey, a feat that may not occur in-person.