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The Process of Appealing for More Aid

Many students and parents are aware that, after they’ve been accepted by a college and awarded a financial aid package, they can appeal to the financial aid office to try and get better terms. That’s all good. But that awareness just sets up more questions:

  1. Is it worth appealing this award?  
  2. More specifically, has the college offered a fair, “market-level” offer?  Or have they already made a great offer that can’t be improved?
  3. Is it the type of school that considers appeals?  (Some don’t have staff to respond or don’t review certain appeals per policy.) 
  4. What grounds can you use to appeal?  And what sort of arguments and supporting documentation are needed for a successful appeal?

Those questions – and they are all valid ones – point to the need for professional advice when considering an appeal.  The unfortunate complexity of applying to US colleges in the current environment makes answering with simple rules difficult.  Colleges that look similar on paper will have different appeals approaches and many will have difficult-to-understand pricing practices.  Some personally assign staff to applicants while others use a quasi-industrial process to sort through thousands of applications.  And finally schools will have views about which rival colleges are their real peers, where a better offer might very well lead to admitted students enrolling there.  

So the need for professional expertise is created by the variety of situations students face.  But that introduces a new problem: what if that professional asks for an upfront fee, often running above $500, to work on an appeal?  That puts families in a difficult position.  They are being asked to pay a significant amount of money without knowing the odds of a successful appeal or how much additional aid can reasonably be expected.

How MCPT Can Help You

That’s why My College Planning Team has introduced an appeals service using contingent payments.  It gives our existing clients professional advice on whether or not to pursue an appeal without expecting any sort of upfront or fixed payment.  You pay us only if we help you improve your offer from the college where your child decides to enroll.  

Importantly, it aligns our interests.  If it looks like you received a competitive offer from your college of choice, we’ll tell you that.  Neither you nor one of our consultants needs to waste their time with a good offer from a desirable school.  And if we think the college has gone “light” on the financial aid given you, then we’ll tell you that, too, because the odds of improving the offer make it worth our time and yours.  If you benefit, we benefit.  

We can also help you assess “change in circumstances” appeals, in case your family’s financial situation has taken a hit, and advise you on which schools are viewed as peers and thus can be used as negotiating leverage in an appeal.  Last but not least, our structured appeal process includes setting your different aid offers side by side on an “apples to apples” basis so you know how much the schools will cost in comparison.  (While certain colleges provide crystal clear information on true net costs, information from many others is unfortunately unclear and at times deliberately obfuscated.)

We provide this to all of our existing clients and think it’s a big benefit.  After all the effort taken with your high school studies, testing and applications, no one wants to botch things the last step of the way, by underestimating the true cost of attending a college or missing out on improving on an offer from a first-choice school.  

We help our clients take the next step into college with competitive aid packages which they fully understand.  We’re proud of this.

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