Barring Sequestration complications (more on this at http://collegepete.com/2012/09/22/experts-warn-families-of-extraordinary-complications-in-this-years-financial-aid-process/), 12th grade parents who have filed their taxes will soon be receiving their ‘final’ financial aid award letters. Unfortunately, many families will find themselves unhappy with the initial contents of these letters. Here’s the good part. In many cases, the award can be improved – it’s an offer; it can be accepted, rejected or countered. Many parents who attend my workshops are surprised when I explain this. Anyhow, the first step in deciding what to do with your offer is to determine if it’s a ‘fair’ award.
Last Spring, I posted a piece on my blog where I share some tips on how to determine if a financial aid award is fair, and what you can do to ‘appeal’ to the school for more money if it is not. Last year, we were successful in more than 75% of the appeals we filed. If you or someone you know is unhappy with what their child’s dream school has offered in the way of financial aid and scholarships, please read/share this article with them — http://collegepete.com/2011/03/29/tips-for-appealing-your-financial-aid-award/.
And if you are the parent of a 9th, 10th or 11th grader, I suggest you read through these tips as well… both as a cautionary tale and a wake-up call. For you, there’s still time to educate yourself on your family’s academic and financial options. And with proper information and advance (as in now) action, college sticker prices can become irrelevant; and therefore, price need not limit your student’s educational options. The key, of course, is to have an integrated funding and admissions strategy in place BEFORE your child falls in love with a particular school. With a good college plan, even families that have little saved and/or have healthy six-figure incomes can cut the price of college dramatically. Consider this: private colleges are ‘discounting’ tuition by an average of 42%; and for public universities the average discount is about 15%. This is according to the College Board.
If you make it a priority to learn about this now, you’ll lessen the likelihood that you or more tragically, your child, will be disappointed later. I’m holding only a few more public workshops this school year. You can check to see where I’ll be speaking next on my website… www.collegeplanningadvice.com.
p.s. Please forward this to your friends, neighbors and relatives with college-bound students. They’ll thank you for it.