How to stop seeing University as Univer$ity

April 14, 2009

College acceptances are about to start rolling in and, for some parents, that might not be good news. Even if your sons and daughters get into the first university on their wish list, the current economic climate might mean they can't matriculate without some hefty financial aid--which might mean not matriculating at all. Enter: the harrowing request for more money. Luckily for parents dealing‚  with this very problem, Gail Marks Jarvis, the Tribune's business columnist, writes today about asking colleges for increased aid. She outlines a list of 7 recommendations for how to go about requesting, and successfully getting, much-needed funds. If you have lost your job since the date when your kids applied, be sure to update the financial aid office on this development. "You should‚ re-submit your request for aid or file what's called 'an appeal,'" writes Jarvis. " That's simply a letter in which you tell the college that your finances have changed and they need to adapt your aid to match the circumstances.‚  The more detail you provide, the better.‚  And include documentation like a letter of termination from your former employer." And if your daughter is a gifted oboist and your son a star soccer player: "think of your child's attributes and perhaps solicit help from a specific department in the college to plead your case if someone has shown an interest in the student.‚  The admissions staff might also put in a good word for you at the financial aid office if‚ they have noted a particular talent or attribute." She also writes that you should do your homework on the colleges before you contact them and make sure you know what kinds of students they usually accept and whether your child falls within the average or somewhere above or below--that will give you a sense of your bargaining power and the likelihood you'll be successful in the bid for extra support.