One of the hidden gems in the Connecticut college financial aid process is the ability to appeal an awards letter if you don’t agree with the amount of financial aid that a school has awarded your child. Most Connecticut parents reluctantly agree to the initial amount that the Connecticut colleges award, never taking the time to wonder if there is more than meets the eye.
However, in my experience the best way to get the best financial aid package college admissions consulting from a college in Connecticut starts months before you ever receive a financial aid package. For example make the student as attractive as possible to the college by raising SAT and ACT scores and creating competition for the student by selecting 6-8 Connecticut colleges comprised of a low-cost in-state public college, college in the same athletic conference, similar college in a different region of the country (cultural diversity), similar college that is known to give good awards, similar college where the student will be in the top 25% of the incoming freshman class and most importantly a Connecticut college that has empty seats to fill.
If a student receives a good award offer from a competing Connecticut college, the student should ask his college of choice to match the other college’s award offer. However, never use the word match in the correspondence or conversation with the financial aid officer. The word match offends some financial aid officers. It’s important to remember that colleges with declining enrollments may be more willing to negotiate with a student because of their desire to fill empty seats.
Colleges in Connecticut may also have scholarships for upper-middle class and wealthy families to attract good students and future benefactors. Special scholarships for minority students are also a good idea. A student should inquire at the college for these scholarships. Some Connecticut colleges may even have special scholarships for students of alumni or legacy students. A college’s desire for cultural diversity in its enrollment may lead to increased financial aid offers for students who are from out of the college’s geographic region, or who are culturally different from its normal enrollment.
Once you have done all those steps and received an awards offer then you need to determine how much the college was short of meeting 100% of the financial need. Then you need to get the true cost at each Connecticut college and decide which is the best financial aid offer. The best way to do this for many parents is to hire a Connecticut college consultant or a Connecticut admissions counselor. While they or you are doing this research it is a good time to inquire about special circumstances that the college has previously accepted as reasons to amend an awards offer. Checking with the Financial Aid Office/Admission Office about the special circumstances before the initial financial aid award is offered can be done during a college visitation, phone or by letter.