How to Get Last-Minute Financial Aid for College
Summer will be here before we know it, which means a new school year for colleges and universities is also on the way. After a few months of work or relaxation, new high school graduates and college students will pack up and head to their campus apartments and dorms. What happens next mostly depends on the student, how focused they are on academics, and how hard they are willing to work to achieve their goals.
Unfortunately, the rising costs of higher education will not have changed by then. Student loans have not been forgiven (and most experts agree they won’t be) and college education at any school – including public colleges and universities – is not still not free.
As students unpack their laptops and prepare their fall wardrobes, they will also have to resign themselves to paying their noses for tuition and fees, either by working while in school or by borrowing money with student loans.
How to Get More Financial Aid – Experts Weigh In
If you hope to minimize the cost of higher education or the amount of your loans, it is still not too late to seek forms of financial assistance. Experts agree that now is the perfect time to do this if you’re willing to put in the extra time and effort.
But, how can you get more financial aid so late in the game? Here are several strategies suggested by top experts in their field:
Be ready to commit to a school
This advice is for students who are still choosing an institution and in discussions with a school’s financial aid office, but it applies nonetheless. Alix Coupet, who is a former admissions officer at Standord and the current senior counselor at Empowerly, says it’s imperative to communicate that if your financial aid needs are met, you’ll attend the college you’re in. discussion.
“No college wants to offer money to students they’re not sure they want to come to,” he says.
That said, feel free to share competing offers with institutions of similar prestige, especially with merit scholarship funds, he says.
However, Coupet adds that the emphasis here is on similar prestige, because “showing your merit-aid scholarship from your security school to your top school is unlikely to yield results.”
Either way, be sure to ask the school directly what you want and need. Coupet says some colleges will ask you exactly how much they would need to modify your financial aid program for you to attend.
“Try to be reasonable here without underestimating yourself,” he says.
Monitoring of scholarship applications
Jayson Matlock, who is the assistant director of financial aid at Southern Utah University, says you should always strive to apply for particular scholarships before their closing date. However, you should also follow up with your school’s financial aid office during the first few weeks before and after school starts to see if any funds have not been claimed.
“If students are offered funding and they no longer plan to attend your university, now may be the time for you to get scholarships that are now available,” he says.
Apply for more scholarships
Martin Lassen, who is the founder and CEO of GrammarHow, says you can also apply for last-minute scholarships and you might be surprised at how many opportunities you find.
“Private organizations offer scholarships year-round, so looking for last-minute opportunities is always a good idea,” he says.
Lassen adds that a scholarship search engine can help you find scholarships based on date, category, grade level, and grant amount. Also, thousands of scholarships are listed on available search engines with details, so you can spend less time researching them and more time applying.
“Keep track of all your deadlines, scholarship amounts, and application status in a spreadsheet as you apply,” he says. This will help you stay organized and let you know which scholarships you need to follow.
File a call
University counselor Robert Powers of College Torch also said students whose circumstances have changed can still appeal informally or formally for additional financial aid from their school.
An unofficial call is a very nice request for help, he says, adding that the financial aid office doesn’t have to help, but it’s worth trying to ask.
Powers said students should reach out and not their parents because it tends to have better results. Students must also communicate clearly and unambiguously.
“If they need a certain dollar amount, they should say so.”
If filing a formal appeal for more help, Powers adds that students should follow their school’s official process to the “T.” Also be thorough and include all the information they ask for and anything you think might help your case.
Complete the FAFSA
If you haven’t already, student loan expert Mark Kantrowitz says it’s crucial to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s a good decision even if you’re already a student, he says.
“If you’re currently enrolled in college, you can even get financial aid retroactively for the fall term if you were eligible at the time,” he says.
Kantrowitz actually wrote a book on this subject called How to Appeal for More College Financial Aid. It also says that you should apply for more financial aid whenever your financial aid package is insufficient or if there has been a change in your family’s financial situation.
Use the tax code to your advantage
Since this year’s tax deadline has just passed for the 2021 tax year, you might want to save this tip for next year. Either way, Kantrowitz recommends taking advantage of any tax benefits you can use to pay less for your college education. This isn’t necessarily “help” per se, but it can help you pay less for higher education in the long run.
For starters, it says you can save for college in a 529 plan.
“Even if college enrollment is imminent, you may be able to save for college with a 529 plan since two-thirds of the states offer tax relief for contributions to the state’s 529 plan,” says -he.
Kantrowitz also says to claim the US Opportunity Tax Credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and the student loan interest deduction on your federal tax return.
It can be difficult to get more financial aid later in the college application process, but it is not impossible. Depending on how much help or financial support you need, there is still plenty of time to find the money during the summer.
Be sure to take the time to analyze your financial situation for school and fill in the gaps now – so you don’t get caught out halfway through the fall semester.