Applying to college and researching financial aid options while maintaining academic excellence can become overwhelming and time-consuming.
From trying to reach school officials over the phone, to researching external resources and writing essays, it can all really test your patience. However, as my dad always says, “Anything in life worth having is worth working for.”
During the college process, you must maintain focus and remain open-minded. This is especially important when securing financial aid. You never want to become content with your financial situation, because your situation may change and awards can be revoked if you do not understand all the terms and conditions.
It is understood that once students receive their award packages from the financial aid office, some are unhappy with the awards granted to them. Some may feel that it’s not a true reflection of their family and that they need more money. If you aren’t satisfied with your award letter, you may be able to negotiate. Therefore, I encourage students and families in this situation to speak with financial aid administrators and see if they may be eligible for additional funding.
Throughout my tenure as a financial aid administrator, I have noticed that there are many students that do not visit nor call the financial aid office during their matriculation, unless there is a major problem. However, all students should periodically visit the financial aid office throughout the year to ensure that all is well; you would hate to be administratively withdrawn for a balance that you did not know you had.
Speaking with financial aid officials will allow you to understand your award package and potential out-of-pocket expenses. Moreover, this will help you build a positive relationship that may help you secure additional aid.
Of course, there are many times you may contact the office, but you receive no response or valuable information. Yet, you still want to remember these are the people who will (or will not) help you to find additional funds and future opportunities. Therefore, begin to build a relationship with your financial aid office, to ensure you make the best decision for you educationally and financially.
Jessica Brown, CEO of College Gurl has been helping students, parents, and guardians successfully navigate the seas of financial aid at post-secondary institutions as a financial aid administrator at various universities. She is also the author of How to Pay for College When Your Broke. For more information on College Gurl, please visit www.collegegurl.com or follow College Gurl on Instagram and Twitter @collegegurljb.