Financial Aid is An Offer, Not a Gift. Remember This Distinction.
Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into college, you’ve danced around the kitchen table and announced it to all your friends on Facebook. Enjoy it, you’ve earned it. But once you get over the excitement of being accepted and you’ve had a chance to review your financial aid package, it is time to do some more thinking. Remember, the financial aid package the school has assembled for you is an offer, not a gift. Here is why that distinction is important: you can appeal an offer.
You Can Appeal Your Financial Aid Offer
The financial aid package you receive from a school is their offer to you for attending their institution. It is not a gift. Treat the financial aid package as an offer and see if it can be improved. You will find that many colleges will negotiate the financial aid offer and some colleges won’t. But you will never know until you ask.
Higher Education is Big Business and You are Their Customer
Students and families are quick to forget that they are the customer in this transaction – and it IS a transaction - and you are in the driver’s seat. There is a lot of money on the line in this deal and, just like buying a house or a car, you would never leave yourself in a situation where you have to accept the terms of the seller. You don’t have to do it with colleges, either.
It is an Appeal. Never Call it Negotiating.
Colleges do not negotiate. If you call up the financial aid office and ask if you can negotiate the award, you will insult them. Colleges have an appeals process and there is a very big difference between the appeals process and negotiating. Appeal starts with an “A”. Negotiate starts with an “N”. It’s their lexicon, use their words.