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Three Tips For Optimizing Your Appeal For More Merit Aid

Your appeal for additional financial aid is not something that begins after you receive your award letter and suddenly realize you can’t afford to pay for your child’s dream school. Your appeal, rather, is one of many components of your overall game plan to pay for college. It can be one of the most important components for lowering college costs. 

Here are three important tips for optimizing your merit aid through the appeals process: 

  1. Plan your appeal early. It should begin when you start creating your college list. The colleges you apply to must always include colleges that are very likely to give you the largest scholarshipseven if your student has no intention of attending them. Getting offers from these additional colleges will further strengthen your negotiating position when the time comes to submit your appeal to your child’s top-choice colleges. One of the most effective arguments for an award increase is to show your college a competitor school that has offered you a better price. 
  2. Make a comprehensive argument that includes multiple data points. Though showing an improved GPA or SAT/ACT test score can certainly be helpful, you would be remiss to focus solely on one factor – even if that leads to a marginal increase in aid – when there might be additional reasons that can further increase your total aid package. For example, any extenuating circumstances in your life that have made it difficult for you to set aside enough money to pay for college should also be included in your appeal for more merit aid. 
  3. Take the time required and get the help necessary to present your arguments in the most effective way possible. Though what you say in your appeal is important, how you say it is equally important. Not only do you need to document the extenuating circumstances that made it difficult for you to save for college, your presentation must engage the person who has the discretion to provide you with additional aid.

Parents who have questions about what to include in their appeal are welcome to contact My College Planning Team for a 15-minute free consultation.  For a small fee, they can actively assist you in strengthening and presenting your appeal.

Three people are involved in the process–the Client Service Manager who will review your situation and help decide what to include in the appeal. Your letter is then edited by the head of their Appeals Team, with a final edit being done by a national appeals expert.   

Even if you are doing this on your own, you should always have your letter reviewed by others before you submit it.  

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Billie Jo Weis

After receiving her BA in Accounting from San Jose State University and quickly attaining her CPA license, Billie Jo gained over 20 years of experience in accounting and finance at a variety of companies including Symantec Corp, Thomas Weisel Partners (a San Francisco investment firm), several Silicon Valley startups and at a Certified Public Accounting firm serving high net worth individuals with their taxes.

She has assisted hundreds of college-bound families with strategies on how to pay the least amount for college and she is also the Head of the Appeals Team.

Billie Jo Weis is a mother of three high school boys. With a passion for family success, she has devoted the past 15 years to her boys' athletic, social and academic lives, including volunteer work at her children’s schools with such programs as Junior Achievement.

Billie Jo is driven and passionate about helping families with financial strategies on how to find the most cost-efficient options to pay for college. With three teenagers in high school, Billie Jo knows first-hand the challenges and concerns of preparing for the cost of college.

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