All those hours spent perfecting your application paid off; you received that coveted fat envelope from your top college. There's just one problem, you've been offered a less than stellar aid package. Before you panic, consider another option.
You see, the financial aid award letter sent from your college is an offer. And it's an offer you're under no obligation to accept. You can turn down a portion or even reject the award in its entirety (though we guess that's unlikely). You can also suggest alternatives. This is called "appealing" for more financial aid.
If one of your best-fit colleges did not award you enough money, it's worth a shot to appeal your offer. You have nothing to lose—a college will not rescind your acceptance because you want to appeal. In fact, when other admitted students decide to enroll elsewhere, award money earmarked for them becomes available.
Before you commit to enrolling, contact the financial aid office. Here are four good points to keep in mind:
Appealing your award is NOT a sure thing. Colleges will have varying responses, dependent upon your reasoning and their ability to adjust the circumstances. Many times they aren't able to offer any changes, but the only way you will know is if you ask. Check out our book Paying for College Without Going Broke for more information on financing your college education.