When you went to purchase or lease your car – did you accept the first offer they made you, or did you look at their price as a “starting point” for negotiation? What about when you bought your home? Did you purchase it at list price, or did you muster up all of your negotiating skills to try to get the seller to come down in price?
So why is college any different? Even the cheapest state schools today will cost you about $10,000 between tuition, fees, books, room and board, and miscellaneous expenses. A private university can easily cost you $40,000 per year and up. Now multiply those amounts by 4 years. And that doesn’t even include graduate school (God forbid!).
A college education for your child (or children) is one of the single biggest investments you will ever make in your entire lifetime! Doesn’t it make sense to treat it like any other major purchase and do your best to negotiate the best possible financial aid package for your child?
Where Do You Begin?
For starters, your children should be doing their best to get good grades in school. In addition, all students should be taking some type of review course to get a good score on their SAT’s/ACT’s.
Second, you must start narrowing down your school choices to colleges and universities where your child lies in the top 25% of the applicant pool – this will significantly increase your chances of getting a good financial aid package.
Next, you must start researching schools that have the best policies on giving good financial aid packages. You want your child to apply to schools that will meet most or all of your family’s financial need.
Lastly, your student will be able to negotiate financial aid awards if your student receives award packages from colleges that are in the same academic caliber. Schools of equal caliber will sometimes offer more aggressive financial aid awards to make sure your student attends their school.