How to Negotiate for a Better Financial Aid Package

Colleges loath the “N” word. Administrators hate it when parents call them up and want to negotiate a better financial aid package.

Well, that’s too bad.

Colleges cost too much money for families to automatically agree to a six-figure commitment. If you’re going to negotiate, however, you’re nearly out of time. The traditional deadline for deposits to secure a spot in the newest freshmen class is May 1.

In recognition of the economic meltdown, most colleges have boosted their college financial aid budgets this year. So even though times are tough, there is a lot more financial aid cash sloshing around. Here are some ways to increase your chances of securing more of that financial aid:

Try some crazy arguments. If a school really wants your child it might accept any lame reason to toss you more money.  I mention this  college financial aid secret in a story that I wrote this month for CBS’s new financial website.

Get your teen involved. A school will be impressed if your child calls its office instead of you.

Provide a number. Try to be as specific as possible about what further student financial aid you need. Don’t just complain that the school costs too much. That’s what stressed financial aid officers hear all day long. If you need another $4,000 a year to make the commitment doable say so.

Be diplomatic. Negotiating is okay, but you can’t approach the process like you’re A-Rod’s agent. You’d be surprised how often FA officers are mistreated – honey goes a long way.

Make a better case. Share any change in your financial circumstances. If there has been a layoff, high medical bills or you’re now caring for an ailing parent, speak up.

To learn how to pay for college and shrink the cost, read The College Solution by Lynn O’Shaughnessy.

Further Reading:

Researching Colleges in 10 Minutes

Cutting the Cost of College With Better Grades

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