Try to Sweeten Your Financial Aid Package

In the crush of the admissions season, financial aid offices are literally inundated with paper, and despite everyone's best efforts, things do occasionally get lost or misfiled. Even if you think you have filed all the necessary paperwork with the schools on your list, it is always a good idea to call each school's financial aid office and confirm that it considers your financial aid application complete.

Once you have done this, you must simply sit back and wait for the news to arrive.

When you begin to hear back from schools, do not be surprised if you receive a wide array of disparate aid packages. Each school has different methods of determining eligibility and different grant and scholarship capacities. Use the best of the financial aid packages you received as leverage with the schools that have given you less desirable packages. Don't be obnoxious, but do call the financial aid office and speak to the financial aid officer in charge of your file, or have your parents make the call for you. Explain your situation, express your preference to attend that school over the school that offered you the better aid package, and politely ask if there is any way for the office to "reconsider" your aid award. The use of the word "reconsider" is actually important here, because some schools will cite to you a "policy" not to "negotiate" aid awards. Although really nothing more than an issue of semantics, using the proper terminology and offering to fax in competing aid awards or additional information to "help" the financial aid office reevaluate your aid award can, and often does, bring dividends.

The earlier you make this call, the better your chances of convincing a financial aid officer to sweeten your till.