College Award Letters: 6 Rules To Follow

It’s not an award letter; it’s the bill. “Here are the loans and discounts (read: scholarships and grants) we’re giving you, and here’s how much money you’re giving us!”

Rule #1

Unless the college is paying for everything (rare), you must not be impressed with any offer from a college. That would be like accepting a lottery check for $1,000 when you know there’s so much more.

Rule # 2

Never accept a college’s financial aid offer as final. Some colleges have the audacity to tell students that no appeal with be accepted, and they will not look an another college’s offer.  Those colleges are selling bridges for fifty cents, and they’re getting plenty of buyers. Au contraire. They WILL look at another college’s offer to see how much they blew it with you and what they can think of next to keep you from defecting. Remember, colleges in April are biting their nails because their destinies are in control of a bunch of 18-year-olds everywhere! Yikes!

Rule #3

Use any college’s better offer against another college’s offer as leverage. Because colleges will look at another college’s offer, they have to decide to meet, exceed, or decline your challenge. If they decline and it’s your number one choice, use another college’s better offer if you can; if you can’t, find another excuse to ask for more money. Be creative. You need a travel grant, a parking grant (nice try, Hemphill!), a winter clothing grant, or a tuition reduction grant to help with mom’s car payments. Okay, sounds far-fetched, but I’ve seen such requests work before, even to my surprise. It all depends on how badly the college wants you.

Rule #4

As long as you are appealing a college’s offer, keep appealing until they say “No” several times. I will ignore telling you a number because if I mention a number, colleges everywhere will use that number against you. We don’t want to show the colleges our hand, do we? Pick a number, keep it to yourself, and start writing again. If you’re at a loss for excuses, rewrite the first appeal with some flare and originality, but don’t be cute.

Rule #5

Make sure the appeal is signed by the STUDENT. If the appeal looks like it was written by the student, that will make a positive impression, which has a way of influencing the reader. Parents should keep their hands off this process – always!

Rule #6

Never mention the economy as an excuse for getting more money (read: discount). Mention your intent on not being in a lot of debt at graduation, and that you’d appreciate some consideration for help with the final bill.

As a child of the 1960s, I loathe rules like any teenager ready to leave home. But these are more like guides, and I hope they work for you as they have worked for my clients for years.
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