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High school seniors and their families have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of college acceptance letters. These letters should come as a huge relief, defining what the future entails. Instead, students and their families are left dealing with the financial aid appeals process.

If you are a parent going through this process for the first time, you may not know that you do not have to pay the list price for tuition. Joel Peck, a certified accountant in New York, says families can reduce their yearly tuition bill by $5,000–$10,000.

How to Lower the Cost of Tuition

Here are a few tips on how you can lower the cost of tuition.

  • If you are a top candidate, many colleges offer room to negotiate. If the college sees you as an asset to their community, they will be flexible on the price.
  • File early. The federal student aid application allows families to file earlier this year, using data from the past two years’ tax returns. You can use this to your advantage when appealing tuition. Use the appeal process to show your most recent financial circumstance and why it should qualify you for lower tuition.
  • Attend a private non-profit college. They are more likely to wiggle on tuition, especially if you or your student has high test scores that will increase the school’s ranking.
  • Take advantage of what someone else turned down. There are scholarships and tuition savings up for grabs as students select their schools. To take advantage of an opportunity another student turned down, you need to appeal the college.

Helpful Information to Lower Your Tuition

Some colleges require you to provide more information than the standard federal form. If that is the case, turn to an advisor for guidance. Below are some examples not included on the federal form. This is information advisors will encourage you to look at or disclose to lower your tuition:

  • Keep track of how many acceptance letters you received. The more offers you have, the better your odds. In this case, you could argue that a rival school has a better offer.
  • Your specific demographic group. A college with declining enrollment in a specific demographic group might be willing to trim tuition to maintain their numbers for that group.
  • Any specific talents or skills? These skills might fill the role of someone who is about to graduate. This makes you more valuable to the college.
  • Document an unusual circumstance. If your family recently had to pay excessive medical bills due to illness, recent job loss, and any other circumstances that affect your financial status, provide this information to the school.

Haggling may not be the most comfortable thing to do. It is important to know what angle you plan to work and what your assets are in the argument. Be prepared to present your case and why you believe your family deserves lower tuition. Try not to look desperate in your arguments – be clear and concise about your needs. Be sure to wait a few days after receiving an acceptance letter, and wait to make your decision until the deadline.

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