Image from Pexels

Image from Pexels

Congratulations on all of the college acceptances you’ve received so far and good luck on the many more to come in the next month or so! One of the things probably on your mind now is financial aid. I know some of you may be basing the majority of your decision on which school to attend on the generosity of the financial aid offer. Do not feel shame about this! However, the thought that may also be going through your mind is whether or not it is worth it to try and appeal a financial aid package in order to make your first choice school more affordable.

In general, colleges do not seem to favor adjusting a person’s financial aid decision simply because another school offers them more money. However, there are some exceptions.

For example, some schools such as Cornell University blatantly offer students the chance to successfully appeal their financial aid decision if they receive a better offer from another Ivy League school, MIT, Duke, or Stanford University as they will match the offer from one of those schools. If you’re wondering if Cornell will match the financial aid package of another similarly-ranked university, the answer is unfortunately no (trust me, I asked when it was my time). Still, asking your schools if they have a similar procedure is well worth your time! In fact, one of TP’s own successfully appealed his financial aid decision in this manner (albeit, it took a 45-minute persuasive phone conversation to come to a negotiation).

Another example of a situation that would likely lead to a successful financial aid appeal is if your family experiences sudden, unforeseen, and/or detrimental financial ruin. I am not talking about if one of your parents fails to receive their bonus check at the end of the year, or if you fail to pay off your credit cards due to financial irresponsibility. I am speaking of job-loss, bankruptcy, or a horrendous medical trauma that leads to enormous hospital expenses.

One of our TP staffers found herself in the following situation, which lead to her gaining a successful appeal: January of her application cycle her mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer and her family was immediately burdened with huge medical expenses. She contacted her schools and some offered to replace her loans with grants. As a result, she is now attending school virtually for free.

Reasons That Won’t Get a Granted Appeal

1. I want to use my summer earnings to buy myself a Burberry coat instead of paying for school.

2. I want America to be more like Great Britain in that we should only pay a base rate for tuition (I agree, but sadly this will get you nowhere).

3. I don’t want to have to take out all of these loans for college because I plan on attending graduate school and it’s not fair that I will already be deep in debt.

4. My savings = beer fund and therefore cannot be applied toward school.

5. I deserve more money because you accepted me.

6. It’s not fair.

If you do decide to appeal your decision, I would recommend calling the financial aid office over emailing them. This will show that you are willing to directly deal with the department and it will also ensure that you get an answer right away. Colleges are going to be extraordinarily busy dealing with admissions questions over the next two months, and it may be two or three weeks before you receive email correspondence.

Don’t we all wish we could make this decision apart from the level of financial burden brought upon us? The cost of higher education in America is truly astronomical and it is rising every year.

All I can say is that at the end of the day, each and every one of you will arrive at the end of this arduous, but ever addicting journey.

Good luck!



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  1. Pingback: Financial Aid - Colleges & Universities 4 Feb, 2015

    […] Appealing a Financial Aid Decision: Is It Worth It? | Let’s win … http://www.theprospect.net/appealing-a-financial-aid-decision-is-it-worth-it-18818 […]

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