Can you still afford to attend college in the fall due to the Covid 19 virus?
The Covid virus has changed several aspects of attending and paying for college. If you find yourself lacking enough money to pay for college costs due to the Covid-19 virus, here are a few things that you may want to consider.
Changes In Income And Assets Could Make Your EFC Worthless
If your student is presently in college and your income and assets were affected by the Covid-19, the FAFSA that you completed last October may not show your present need for financial aid. Students that will be completing the FAFSA this coming October will also be affected. Since your EFC is calculated based on your 2018 tax returns, your financial situation could be different than your present financial condition. There are a few things you could do in order to reduce your college bills.
You Can Appeal To The College For More Aid
Many families are not aware they can ask for adjustments to their EFC if their income and assets have been reduced due to the pandemic. To accomplish this, the family will need to appeal to the college to adjust their EFC. Appealing a financial aid offer can be done at any time while the student is attending college when the family’s financial situation has changed.
At present, colleges and universities are deeply nervous about their fall enrollment statistics and focused on their bottom line. Based on the once in a lifetime circumstance, it has forced many colleges and universities to be more open to negotiating with currently enrolled students and students that have been accepted for enrollment.
Below are a few answers to some common questions on how to ask for more financial aid during the pandemic.
Will The College Let Me Pay Less This Coming School Year?
Due to the pandemic, many colleges know they must take an aggressive position when it comes to attracting qualified students to attend their institution and maintain their present student body. Therefore, many colleges may be willing to work with students that are having reservations about attending college due to financial reasons.
Another reason why colleges may be willing to negotiate the student’s EFC is that they are competing with other schools for your tuition dollars.
If your student has applied to several different colleges and has been offered better financial aid awards than the student’s dream college, they may be able to use the better offers to negotiate a matching offer from the dream college.
This typically works very well when the colleges are similar in academic and financial structure.
However, you need to know what type of aid you could receive.
Not All Financial Aid Offers Are Equal Even When The Offers Are Similar
You could find different colleges offering your student a similar amount of financial aid dollars. So, what do you do then?
If two colleges are offering the same about of financial aid, you need to look at what type of assistance is being offered. One college maybe offering a total aid package that is loaded with a substantial amount of college loans, and another is offering the same amount of aid, but 60% of the offer is in college loans, and 40% is in need and merit-based scholarships and grants. Needless to say, the college that is offering the scholarship/grant dollars is a better deal.
You see, colleges and universities offer need-based financial and merit-based aid. When a college adjusts the family's EFC, it causes the Cost Of Attending (COA) to increase. Therefore, you could qualify for more Federal and State financial aid. Some of these increases could be in the form of grants, Federal/state college work-study, and college loans (Student and Parent’s Loans.) The college’s financial aid department handles all these adjustments.
If your student is applying to several similar colleges and one or more are offering your student a handsome merit-based aid scholarship, you can ask the college that your student wants to attend to match or better the merit scholarship from another college. Typically, merit-based aid can be negotiated with the college’s admissions office, not the financial aid office.
When negotiating for merit-based financial aid, you need to be polite and express a sincere hope that the college you are dealing with is the college you want to attend.
Going Through The Appeal
Applying for more financial aid is NOT accomplished by just asking for more money. You need to show and provide documentation of your need for increased aid. Here are a few examples:
• Job loss or reduction of your salary
• Large out-of-pocket medical expense
• Increased childcare cost
• Increase in parental support (father/mother, grandparents, etc.)
• Asset reduction due to unforeseen necessary personal and business expenses
• Asset and Income spent in looking for a new job
All colleges and universities will require documentation that outlines your increase in aid is justified.
Some colleges will have a special appeal document that you will be required to complete. In comparison, some colleges will only require you to submit your own letter that outlines your personal circumstances. Either way, a written document and backup records must be provided before the appeal will be processed.
Go on the college’s website to obtain the process of appealing your financial aid offer. If the process is not clearly defined on the college’s website, you should call the college’s financial aid department for further instructions.
Your letter should summarize the financial and personal changes that were not included on the FAFSA application that you previously submitted. Try to keep your appeal letter to one page.
The letter can be sent to the financial aid office by e-mail in a PDF document, and it must be signed. Also, any documentation and support information must be included with your letter, such as:
• Job termination letter
• Unemployment files
• List of medical bills
• Personal and business bank statements
• Childcare expenses and provider’s name
• Most recent income tax returns, (personal and business)
• List of all assets, parents, and student (don’t include equity in your home, retirement accounts, life, and annuity equity)
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the appeal process and policy rules change daily, so the student should contact the college quickly.
The student should take a proactive role when appealing for more financial aid. Following up with phone calls and e-mails is especially important. If the college request additional information, the student should respond immediately.