Don’t Be Afraid to Negotiate
This is the time of year when hundreds of thousands of high-school students tear open their college acceptance letters to find out if they’ve been accepted by the schools of their choice. Once the initial excitement wears off comes the hard part—sitting down with their parents to figure out if they can afford to attend those prestigious schools. The alternative is to stay at home and attend the local community college or work a year, hoping to save enough money to attend a four-year school at a later time. But no parent wants his/her child sitting on the sidelines, missing out on the wonderful life experiences that college provides.
Is a college education becoming the domain of the rich?
College debt has become one of the biggest financial threats to American families. College students are now graduating with an estimated $33,000 in debt. If they enter the job market in a bad economy, have trouble finding employment or are somehow marginalized, that debt soon looms out of proportion. Those who go on to graduate school are further mortgaging their futures.
It’s not unusual for those who are graduating from law and medical schools to have hundreds of thousands of dollars in college loans that don’t get paid off until middle age. It took the Obamas 25 years to pay off the accumulated debt of their combined Ivy League educations–despite good jobs. Not until President Obama signed his book deal in 2004 was he finally able to pay off these loans.
Get aggressive: don’t be intimidated by the student aid officer
College doesn’t have to be a privilege reserved for the 1%. Here’s the good news. Enrollments are significantly down—an estimated 500,000 fewer entrants—wonderful news for your son or daughter, so leverage this deficit.
- You may have your heart set on one school, but it’s best to keep a few options on the table—play these against each other.
- Be a shrewd negotiator. You got a great price on your new car or new home, right? You can do the same thing on education—and this time, there’s a lot more at stake.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for more aid. According to the Princeton Review, 30-50% of the families who ask for more aid get it.
- If you’re dissatisfied with your aid package, ask to see their guidelines. Carefully review these for your appeal. Build a careful business case that justifies why you deserve a larger aid package.
Finally, remember that the college aid officers are not on your side—despite what they tell you. They’re going to offer the smallest financial aid package possible. It’s up to you to roll up your sleeves and go back to the bargaining table—your child’s education is an investment worth fighting for.
Time to start saving for your child’s college education?
Talk to us at Palma Financial Services. We prepare and package students to get them into the best private schools and maximize the awards. We have a proven track record of successfully appealing awards and securing additional funds from colleges and universities.
Call today for a complimentary consultation: 925.307.5454, or sign up for our next college-planning seminar.