When the Numbers Don't Add Up
By Harold Simansky
Educational Investment Advisor
If you receive a disappointing financial aid package, the first place to turn to
is the school’s financial aid office. And the time to do it is now. Most
schools even have an appeals process. As part of this, consider doing the
1. Recheck Your EFC
Mistakes happen all the time. Are the numbers accurate? Did you forget to
2. Count All Expenses
Do you face recurring expenses that were not reflected in the form? Perhaps
you’re caring for an elderly relative or have medical bills. Let the financial
aid officers know about them.
3. Note Extraordinary Items
Was last year’s income particularly high because you won the lottery? Did you
benefit from any one-time windfalls? This could affect your package.
4. Anything Else
Make sure the EFC truly reflects your financial situation. If you’re about to
lose your job, point this out to the aid officers.
5. Prepare to Bargain
If other schools are offering a better package, use it for leverage. This is a
good reason to apply to many more schools.
If high tuition and lack of assistance make it impossible for you to attend the
school, don’t be afraid to say so. It’s amazing what a committed financial aid
officer can do for you.
Education is expensive but it shouldn’t bankrupt you, and most schools
understand this. While they may ask a lot from you, the financial aid packages
they provide can be quite generous. If the package you receive is not, don’t
despair but be ready to bargain.
About the Author
Harold Simansky is the founder of Educational Investments, LLC, (www.educationalinvestments.com
a Registered Investment Advisory firm focused on helping families save for
education. His book, College Costs How Much?! The Workbook to Help You Save for
, which explains the financial aid process, can be purchased at
. You can send him an e-mail at