Your financial aid package for your top-choice university has arrived, but it was not what you expected…now what?
You have been accepted to the college of your dreams: the one you visited more than once and fell in love with. It is perfect for you in all aspects, but your financial aid package doesn’t meet your needs. You did not get an affordable price after all your effort submitting the FAFSA and hoping for the best. You may ask yourself, now what? Should I discard this college?
The answer is: NO! Do not throw away your dream school just because it does not meet your financial needs. Here are three steps to take to try to get more aid after receiving the dreaded news.
1. Write a financial statement
A financial statement is a polite letter to the financial aid office of your college asking for more money. There are many templates online with guidelines that can be effective in receiving more scholarships and grants. Along with this statement, you can provide the college more insight into your life by sending them a breakdown of expenses in your home. This letter can be anything related to you that makes it difficult to pay for your education, like recent financial hardships. It is not guaranteed that the financial aid office will grant you more money, but it does show your interest in the college and more insight into your home life, so you might as well take the opportunity to further explain your circumstances.
2. Retake the ACT or SAT
Many colleges offer their own private scholarships based on certain test scores. You could take the ACT or SAT on the nearest date to try to better your scores and receive more financial aid. This may also apply to scholarships with higher criteria. Study for the tests and retake them. You have nothing to lose, and if you do worse, simply do not send your scores to the college. Improving by even one or two points could make the difference between an extra $1,000 scholarship and nothing.
3. Send your résumé/essays/transcripts/recommendation letters
If you are looking for more merit aid, sending in your résumé will provide the college with your community involvement and achievements. They may be able to refer you to more scholarship opportunities based on your experience. Essays are also a big part of scholarships. By sending a few well-written essays, your dream college can consider them for more scholarship opportunities as well. Sending your transcript will also give them insight into your grades and show your interest in the school. Finally, letters of recommendation are one of the strongest components to your profile since they are usually written without your influence on them. These letters give the college another perspective about you from teachers or mentors who know you very well.
The lesson is, don’t give up on your dream school too soon. Take action, and if you really want this college, work for it. It doesn’t hurt to try to receive more financial aid. I promise that financial aid officers will do everything they can to help you attend their college, and there are many scholarships and grants out there waiting for you. (Search for even more here!)