This year may be the best year to ask a college for more financial aid to lower your college net price. Why is that? In the last year National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), the foremost national membership association of college admission officers and college counselors, approved a new set of recruitment rules to avoid further scrutiny from the U.S. Department of Justice. Previously colleges were bound by industry norms from poaching students from another college once the student sent in a deposit. Since this no longer exists, colleges now can offer incentives to lure students to another college or encourage a student to enroll at their college by offering more money.
With colleges reporting struggles enrolling their target number of students, the threat of any student not coming ways heavily on the admissions team. So if you think you need to reduce your college net price with more gift aid or merit aid, reach out to ask for more.
How to Ask for a Reduction in Your College Net Price
There is an art to asking for more need-based aid or merit aid. Although conversations on the phone with relevant admissions and financial aid administrators may be helpful, most will not act without a written appeal to lower your net price . Both emails and snail mail can work. Remember being polite goes a long way. Practically, everyone responds positively to the use of “please,” “thank you,” and praise for prior assistance rendered.
The more specific you are the better. Be certain to ask for a specific amount of gift aid. If they gave you $15,000 already, asking for an additional $15,000 may not be well received. However, asking for any additional $2,500 may be doable.
If you have had additional expenses, a job loss, savings loss based on market conditions since your application, or another unexpected financial circumstance, document the situation when you write up your financial aid appeal to reduce your college net price. With detailed facts like dates, expenses, notifications, benefits, and anything else that pertains to the change in your financial circumstances. Plus, copies of letter, notifications, bank statements, and receipts are typically welcomed.
Did another college offer you more money? If yes, send a copy of their aid offer. Remember screenshots can work. Plus, if you have any recent correspondence from the other college trying to lure you to enroll, include that documentation as well.
What are the Odds of Getting More Aid?
Prior to this new post NACAC changes, a College Coach from Bright Horizons estimated that negotiating for more financial aid only works in about 50% of the cases. We hope this means that the odds may be in your favor more this year.
After you send the financial aid appeal, there will be a waiting game. Know that some colleges will jump on this type of request to lower your net price and others will take their time. Before you rush to the phone, wait at least one week from the time you think they got the financial aid appeal. Then, ask who is considering the request, what if anything else they may need to consider the financial aid appeal, and what timeline you should expect for a response.
Colleen MacDonald Krumwiede is a financial aid and paying for college expert with over a decade of financial aid experience at Stanford GSB, Caltech, and Pomona College and another decade at educational finance and technology companies servicing higher education. She guides go-to-market strategy and product development at Quatromoney to transform the way families afford college.