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Negotiating Financial Aid Amid the Coronavirus

Updated: Oct 1, 2020

When your financial-aid award arrives you may wonder: is this it? Is there any room for negotiation? Do colleges ever reconsider their offers?

A new online tool called SwiftStudent was designed to help any student receiving federal aid, by guiding her through the ins and outs of requesting aid adjustments. The website describes the financial aid appeal process and provides appeal-letter templates for various situations.

For the past few years, colleges have been fairly consistent in providing their best and final financial aid offers with their initial aid award. But, college financial aid, like most everything, will now have to consider the impacts of COVID-19. Many families are experiencing reductions in income because of the Covid-19 crisis. Therefore, we encourage anyone with a change in financial circumstances to immediately begin a dialogue with the college.

As a general rule, you will need to provide tangible documentation of your change in financial circumstances. Though frustrating, this cannot be an anticipated prospective loss: you must show an already existing material change in your financial situation. Be prepared to provide as much documentation as possible to support your appeal.

The economic impact of COVID-19 is worse than anything we have seen in many decades. It is unclear how this will end, so some families may need to completely revise their college plan. It is still uncertain as to whether any colleges will welcome students on campus for the fall semester. Some students may prefer to defer admissions for a year and work while this uncertainty plays out. Remember, this moment will pass. While you appeal and evaluate your options, keep the lines of communication open with your student as you proceed to make a college choice.

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