the Financial Aid Gap
(ARA) - For many college-bound students, the anticipation
of higher education is overshadowed by financial anxieties.
With tuition rising faster than financial aid dollars,
more students are finding gaps in their financial
aid packages. The gap appears when the studentís expected
family contribution (EFC) plus the schoolís financial
aid package donít equal the cost of attendance.
How can families bridge the gap? One way is to appeal
the financial aid offer. If the collegeís package
of loans, grants, scholarships and work-study come
up short, meet with the financial aid office. Write
a letter to request a meeting and explain why the
school should consider adjusting your aid offer.
Some pointers for the meeting:
* Prepare documentation for the financial aid office
to review in support of your case, particularly circumstances
not revealed on your Free Application for Federal
Student Aid (FAFSA).
* Demonstrate that your familyís financial circumstances
have changed dramatically since you filed your FAFSA
(i.e. death, unemployment, medical expenses).
* Different schools have different attitudes toward
financial aid appeals. Some schools like to see the
aid packages offered by other schools youíre considering,
while others might be put off by its inclusion.
* Be courteous when requesting additional assistance.
Youíre not trying to drive a bargain on a used car.
Approach the aid officer as an ally, not an adversary.
Another approach to take is to look for scholarships.
Conduct a free scholarship search on FastWeb.com (http://www.fastweb.com).
Searching an online database of more than 600,000
scholarships, you can quickly find out what scholarships
you might qualify to apply for.
Consider a part-time job. If work-study isnít part
of your aid package, ask if itís a possibility. Research
the campus and surrounding community to find other
viable employment options.
Get the most from your loans. First, be sure youíre
borrowing the maximum you can in subsidized loans.
For instance, Stafford loans allow dependant undergraduate
students to borrow up to $2,625 their freshman year,
$3,500 their sophomore year and $5,500 for each remaining
year. You can find more student loan information at
If you still donít have enough money to cover the
gap after maximizing your subsidized loans, you can
approach a private lender for a supplemental loan.
This loan wonít have all the advantages of a Stafford
loan, but it could get you to your dream school.
Reduce expenses. Explore ways to reduce the cost
of attending school. Is the school in an area where
the student might be able to live at home or with
relatives? Can you meet the same academic goals at
a lower cost institution? Consider accelerated programs
where you might complete a degree in three years rather
than four; or the idea of attending a community college
for two years, then transferring in to complete your
Courtesy of ARA Content