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Appealing Financial Aid Offers, Demonstrated Interest, and Communicating with Colleges

Julia Jones

Written by Julia Joneson February 14th, 2019

I have been working in education with students for more than 20 years. I spent many years working in the admissions office at Brandeis University, where I was involved in virtually all aspects of the admissions process. As a senior member of the admissions committee, I was a key decision maker on applications, and I met and recruited students around the country and from major cities including Boston, Cleveland, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Nashville. I also served as director of a one-thousand member national network of alumni recruiters and interviewers. Prior to joining College Coach, I continued my work with high school students and their families as director of admissions at a private day and boarding school in Massachusetts.
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On the latest episode of Getting In: A College Coach Conversation, guest host Sally Ganga covers three timely and informative topics: how to make demonstrated interest work for you in the college application process, the best way to communicate with colleges, and appealing the financial aid awards that high school seniors are starting to receive. Appealing Financial Aid Offers In this first segment, Sally welcomes finance expert Jeanne Mahan to help families understand how they can go back to a college’s financial aid office to ask for more money. Financial aid appeals can be successful if they reveal changes in finances or special financial circumstances that weren’t noted on the initial application. Circumstances that can affect financial aid packages include:
  • Job loss;
  • High medical expenses;
  • Another child in the family attending a private school or other special educational expenses;
  • Financial support to other extended family members (elder grandparents, for example); and
  • Sale of stocks or withdrawals from retirement plans, which add to the reported income on the FAFSA.
Whatever the circumstances, the best practice is to send an appeal letter to the financial aid office, including supporting documentation. Demonstrated Interest For the second segment, I join Sally to talk about demonstrated interest: what is it, how to show it, and the role it plays in the application process. We start by talking about what we mean by “demonstrated interest”: essentially, it is showing your interest in the college in some way—through calls, emails, meeting college reps at your school, and visiting the campus. Many (though not all) colleges track these points of contact, and it can be a factor in the admissions process. The bottom line: colleges are looking to accept students who are most likely to enroll. And, while imperfect, tracking interest from students (through all the points of contact a student may have with a college) is how a college assesses this likelihood of enrollment. Communicating with Colleges In a nice segue from the discussion about demonstrating interest, Sally welcomes college admissions expert Sara Calvert-Kubrom for the last segment of the show to talk about how to communicate with colleges. Sara notes that the student, not the parent, should be communicating with colleges whenever possible. While this can be intimidating for students, it’s a great opportunity for students to start the practice of advocating for themselves. Sally and Sara offer some practical action steps that students can do now to get ready for communicating with colleges. Sara’s suggestions include:
  • Creating a system for managing email and communications;
  • Making sure that the student’s voicemail is set up and open for messages;
  • Ensuring that voicemail greetings, email addresses, and social media profiles are professional and appropriate; and
  • Practicing etiquette for email communications and phone calls.
Sara closes by reiterating that these are all valuable life skills for students to gain—skills that go far beyond just the college admissions process. And that rounds out an information-packed show! Tune in for our next episode, when host Elizabeth Heaton covers other important topics, such as getting started on college essays, senioritis, and negotiating college scholarships. Getting-In-CTA


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