Something interesting happens every summer before high school graduates head off to college. Most people in the higher education industry refer to it as ‘summer melt’. It’s a yearly occurrence when extra financial aid is unclaimed and returned to the college’s pool of resources. It’s a result of students who had previously accepted admissions to that college deciding not to attend, thus leaving their financial aid package on the table. That aid is then usually available for accepted students who know how to ask for it.
Here are four tips for college students and their families for the summer before going off to college:
- Try to negotiate BEFORE you’ve sent in your deposit for enrollment. This will encourage the school to work with you to ensure your enrollment.
- Contact the college financial aid office. Be appreciative of what you’ve already been offered, and ask (don’t demand!) for any additional funds. Ask if any admitted students declined their financial aid awards or if any new funds are available.
- Tell your college of choice what other colleges have offered you. Informing them of your other choices makes their decision more relevant.
- If any of your financial circumstances have changed in the last year and a half (since the tax year began), let the financial office know. Sometimes parents lose their jobs, someone in the family gets ill, or housing situations change. Divorce and new children in the family are also game-changers with taxes and financial aid awards.
You may be surprised to learn that most college financial aid packages are negotiable. But it’s true. Students should call or write a letter to financial aid office asking if there’s any money that is now available, especially if their financial circumstances have changed since the college application was sent in.