Having two kids in college, I always read tips on how to maximize financial aid. (I have two more due to start college in eight years, so I will be worrying about this issue for a long time.)
I can’t say that I have had great success in cajoling more money out of colleges. We did approach my freshman son’s private college to see if it would consider matching better aid packages from similar schools and that led to a slight increase.
I would be curious if any of you have fared better or have advice for parents whose children are applying to colleges now. Certainly, parents today need all the help they can get.
I found that colleges looking to attract top students are more likely to offer aid than colleges that already have more than enough top students knocking down their doors.
These tips come from Jerry Slavonia of CampusExplorer
Tip #1: Leverage your strong points and position yourself. There isn’t going to be a discussion about tuition options until you’ve been accepted. Give yourself a couple of good options, all of which will suit you. Then make the school want you! A significant number of students are accepted but never attend. Private colleges need students to survive. Leverage that knowledge.
#2: Do your homework (this time). Do as much research as you can on each of your top selections. Try to narrow your focus so you can dig in on each school. How’s the weather during winter? Do you like the surrounding community? Do you believe they offer the areas of study you are most interested in? How much is it going to cost? Tuition dependant colleges (private schools) will discuss tuition arrangements with you once you’ve been accepted.
#3: Give yourself options: You can’t negotiate without leverage. Options = leverage.
#4: Be straightforward: Once you’ve been accepted, establish a relationship with the admissions staff. Identify your target admissions person. Don’t beat around the bush. Tell them you want as many options as they have to lower your out of pocket tuition expense in order to make your decision on where you’ll attend.
#5 Be realistic: If the schools published tuition is $30,000 annually, you’re not going to knock off $20,000. But you may find yourself knocking ten, even twenty percent off by being persistent and working the system so don’t hold back. You can knock off even more if you fully investigate grants, scholarships and work study programs. So don’t assume anything when it comes to negotiating lower tuition costs at private schools.