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Financial Aid Information

Find explanations for common financial aid terms and check out expert tips on how to proceed if your financial aid package isn't enough to make college affordable:

When the Numbers Don't Add Up

By Harold Simansky
Educational Investment Advisor

If you receive a disappointing financial aid package, the first place to turn to is the school's financial aid office. And the time to do it is now. Most schools even have an appeals process. As part of this, consider doing the following:

1. Recheck Your EFC

Mistakes happen all the time. Are the numbers accurate? Did you forget to submit something?

2. Count All Expenses

Do you face recurring expenses that were not reflected in the form? Perhaps you're caring for an elderly relative or have medical bills. Let the financial aid officers know about them.

3. Note Extraordinary Items

Was last year's income particularly high because you won the lottery? Did you benefit from any one-time windfalls? This could affect your package.

4. Anything Else

Make sure the EFC truly reflects your financial situation. If you're about to lose your job, point this out to the aid officers.

5. Prepare to Bargain

If other schools are offering a better package, use it for leverage. This is a good reason to apply to many more schools.

6. Push

If high tuition and lack of assistance make it impossible for you to attend the school, don't be afraid to say so. It's amazing what a committed financial aid officer can do for you.

Education is expensive but it shouldn't bankrupt you, and most schools understand this. While they may ask a lot from you, the financial aid packages they provide can be quite generous. If the package you receive is not, don't despair but be ready to bargain.

About the Author

Harold Simansky is the founder of Educational Investments, LLC, ( a Registered Investment Advisory firm focused on helping families save for education. His book, College Costs How Much?! The Workbook to Help You Save for School, which explains the financial aid process, can be purchased at You can send him an e-mail at