college financial aid / coronavirus

Evaluating College Aid Offers and Asking for More Financial Aid

 We live in an upside down world due to Coronavirus. Many families have experienced major disruptions to their financial circumstances. Ann Carrns, financial and college expert writing for The New York Times reports on last minute strategies to try to garner more financial aid if you family has suffered a major income loss. Keep in mind that students need to file an annual FAFSA and re-apply for financial aid each year so tuck this info away for future reference even if it doesn’t apply to you this year. 

With May 1 or May 3 as the deadline for newly admitted applicants to declare that they will enroll and submit deposits, students still have time to appeal to a college for more financial aid. “If the pandemic has caused a significant decline in income, a job loss or added medical expenses, you should let the school know.”

“Be careful to distinguish between ‘gift’ aid, like grants and scholarships, which doesn’t have to be repaid, and loans, which do. Subtract the gift aid from the college’s cost of attendance — the total cost of tuition, housing, meals, books and supplies — to get a net price. Do this for each school before considering how much of the cost you can cover from savings and earnings, and how much you would have to borrow to cover any shortfall.”

“One big factor this year is that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid — the gateway to federal as well as state and much institutional financial help, known as FAFSA — required students to report financial information from 2019. So families that fell on hard times during the pandemic may find their aid offers don’t reflect their true situation.”

“College financial aid officials have discretion to use ‘professional judgment’ to increase aid if a student’s circumstances have changed.”

SwiftStudent is a free tool to help students file an appeal letter. https://formswift.com/swift-student

“uAspire, created a free online cost calculator to help applicants make ‘apples to apples’ comparisons of aid offers. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau also offers an online tool to compare offers, and the Institute for College Access & Success offers a tip sheet.”

Source: Financial Planning for Women