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If the financial aid award letter that you got with your college acceptance doesn’t match your financial situation now, here’s what you can do to get more money.
Find errors and fix them
Review the FAFSA and CSS profile. You may have made a mistake on the free Federal Student Aid app, known as FAFSA, or the College Board CSS Profile. Both are used by colleges to determine how much you and your family can contribute towards college costs.
Consult an advisor. Have a college counselor review your forms to make sure you haven’t misinterpreted the questions.
Make corrections. You can make corrections to the FAFSA online, but be sure to contact your school’s financial aid office to confirm updates to the FAFSA and CSS profile.
Learn how to appeal your reward
If you care about a school that hasn’t given you enough help, you can appeal the award. But enter the process with realistic expectations: a loud call could net you a few thousand more dollars, but a gap of $ 20,000 will be more difficult to close.
Your appeal is more likely to be successful if:
An error occurred in your help request.
Your family’s situation has changed since your first application. For example, your parent may have lost their job, divorced, or given birth.
You have a competing offer from another school that you can ask your dream school to match.
Contact the school’s financial aid office to find out how their appeal process works. Typically, you will send an email to the office with your request, which should include supporting documents proving your claim and a request for a specific additional amount.
If you are already enrolled in school and need more funds immediately, inquire about emergency financial aid. Your school’s financial aid office will also give you advice on how you can apply. You will usually need to specify an amount and provide documentation to support the claim.
State scholarships. Find a state grant and scholarship programs using this tool of the National Association of Administrators of Student Financial Aid. The US Department of Education also lists contact details for each state’s higher education agency.
Private scholarships. Countless organizations and companies offer scholarships to students. Try the US Department of Labor scholarship finder to narrow down those you may be eligible for.
Find out how your school applies the scholarships. Schools can reduce other types of financial aid if you receive an external scholarship, a process called scholarship relocation. Ask your school how external scholarship funding is applied to your financial aid scholarship. Ask them to reduce your student loans, if possible, and not any government or school grants or scholarships that have been given to you previously.
Additional options to pay for college
Maximize Federal Student Loans
Borrow federal before private. Federal loans have more generous repayment and forgiveness options than private loans.
Determine how much to borrow. the amount you should borrow will depend on the type of monthly payments you can expect and your income in the first year after graduation. A good rule of thumb is to borrow no more than 10% of your expected monthly take-home pay. Use a student loan repayment calculator to estimate the payments.
Ask to pay the tuition fees in installments
Instead of paying a lump sum at the start of each semester, paying month by month could help your family fit your college bills into their budget and possibly reduce your reliance on student loans.
Your school may have a installment payment program that allows you to pay monthly. Making installment payments is a lesser-known financial aid option for students, although not all schools allow it. Talk to your school’s financial aid office to find out if they allow monthly payments.