Last month we discussed how to handle admissions decisions. As those decisions continue to roll in, we encourage you to share your results and how you are feeling. We are here to help you navigate next steps and talk through the wave of emotions you may be experiencing. One thought that may come up during this time is, how will I / my family afford college?
Let’s say you’ve been accepted to a great college (yay!) only to find out the school isn’t giving you enough money (womp womp). What do you do? We are going to explore two options to take right now:
- Writing a Financial Aid appeal letter
Why apply for scholarships? Easy answer – free money!
No matter your family’s EFC (expected family contribution), anyone can apply and qualify for a scholarship. Scholarship partners want to know what skills/qualities/values/interests you’ve developed that will contribute to a college campus. Sometimes there is a scholarship offered through your desired major and many are offered through outside organizations. This allows all students to apply, so why not try for some!
Where to find them? Some resources we like are:
Through a Google search of: “College name scholarships” (i.e. Penn State Scholarships), you can find links to many direct scholarships offered directly from your college of choice. Some you can apply for while you are still waiting for an admissions decision, and some you apply for after being accepted. We are available to help you navigate these steps.
Final thought – Get this: Going Merry shared that more than 15% of the scholarships on their site went unclaimed last year. That’s basically free money that just sat there … because no one tried to win it. What’s the lesson? You miss out on 100% of the scholarships you don’t apply for. So get on it!
Financial Aid Appeal Letter
What is an appeal letter?
If you applied for need-based financial assistance, you will find out how much money, if any, you qualify for with your acceptance letter. Often, you may wonder, Is this ALL the money the school can offer me? Could it be that, if you ask nicely and write a financial aid letter request, then the school just might give you a little more? Possibly and you’ll never know unless you ask.
When should you write the letter?
As soon as possible. Because once the money is gone, it’s gone. So go fight for your case.
What to include in the letter: Read this article for more details. In short, you should:
- Re-introduce yourself and share how grateful you are for your acceptance and how much you want to attend said school. If it’s truly your 1st choice school, you can say this as well.
- Transition with a clear and simple sentence that gets to the heart of the letter: There is one problem however, and it is a financial one.
- Briefly talk about why the school is a great fit for you and why you need more money in a respectful and straightforward way.
- Provide concise details regarding your financial situation. Breakdown the numbers in a truthful way and so the school can understand what you see.
- Include any details about yourself that show you are a hardworking student and have succeeded in the past. Especially anything new since you applied (i.e. awards won, voted as valedictorian, improved grades, etc.)
- Keep it short and to the point. Once you are done, sign off respectfully.
Current Juniors and New Clients – Creating your Senior Year schedule
At this point in the year, we hope your midterms are over and you can focus on having a wonderful second semester. If you have not done so already, you may also be preparing to meet with your guidance counselor to create your senior year schedule. Here are some tips to keep in mind when planning your schedule:
- Consider Your Major/Career Interests
If you have an idea of what your major for college may be or a general career interest, take classes that will help you advance in these fields. For example, if you are interested in Nursing or Medicine, make sure to take AP Bio and all the proper math and science courses. The more advanced, the better.
- Kick Your Courseload Up A Notch
Due to SAT/ACT testing becoming optional, don’t expect admissions to be any easier. There is a huge temptation to take easy electives, early dismissal, study hall, and other freebie courses that will give you more time to have fun during your senior year. While it is important to have fun and enjoy yourself, you won’t do anything to impress colleges by padding your schedule with easy electives and free blocks of time. Colleges will be looking much more closely at the classes you took, so make sure to have AP/Honors courses to show competitiveness.
- Play-up Your Strengths
With that said, we know not everyone is a best fit for advanced courses. Do your best to challenge yourself in other ways. Are you an artist? Make sure to take advantage of higher-level art courses and sign-up for art competitions. Are you an athlete? Try out for leadership/captain positions and highlight areas where you went above and beyond in your sport.
- Fulfill College Requirements
Just because you’ve fulfilled most of the school requirements for your state and school district doesn’t mean that you’ve fulfilled the expectations of those selective colleges that you hope to apply to. Sometimes, your school or state does not require the same courses as the colleges you want to apply to. For instance, your school district may require you to take two years of a foreign language, but the colleges you’re applying to may want to see at least three years. Do your research ahead of time to see if this is the case with any of the colleges you’re applying to.
Schedule an appointment with an EPC advisor today to review your scheduling choices and assist with researching colleges. We are here to support you from the very initial stages of the college planning process through making the final decision!