6 questions to boost college financial aid

Can you get more money?
Can you get more money? © Shawn Hempel/

Colleges don't advertise it, but offer letters are negotiable. Of course, you need to have a reason, and it can't just be "I need more money," says Orsolini of College Aid Planners.

"Colleges generally put forward their best possible financial aid package," Orsolini says. "They don't change aid packages unless there is a strong reason to do so."

But college finance consultant Lockwood says most students have some room to negotiate.

"You should always ask," he says. "This is not the time to be proud. It's OK to use a little emotion, but use your judgment as to whether you're laying it on too thick."

Parents and students should always remember that being polite goes a long way, especially when you consider how many angry phone calls financial aid officers receive. Beyond politeness, Lockwood says you need to press your case.

If the school is your student's first choice, say so. If you're being forced to consider other schools solely because of financial issues, make that clear to the financial aid office. And provide them with copies of superior aid letters from competitive schools. If something such as a lost job or divorce has negatively impacted your finances during the application process, say so.


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