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Articles / Applying to College / Could More Emails from Colleges Mean More Money?

Could More Emails from Colleges Mean More Money?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | April 15, 2020
Could More Emails from Colleges Mean More Money?

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One of the colleges that accepted me is sending me a lot of emails. The emails are all from my admissions rep and he seems very eager for me to commit. I'm wondering if, based on this level of interest from them, I should hold out for scholarship offers from them, or even ask if scholarships are an option. Or do the constant emails not mean anything?


College admission officers are flying without radar this spring. That is, due to the unprecedented changes spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic, they can't rely on past data to estimate how many newly accepted students will enroll. Many schools have even moved their candidates' reply dates from May 1 to June 1 — or beyond — and thus it could be a while before the admission folks get any sense of their Fall 2020 numbers. Therefore, it's no surprise that some colleges are bombarding high school seniors with correspondence now, in order to try for at least a ballpark head count.

So ... can you turn this eagerness for a commitment into an advantage? That depends on several factors that you haven't mentioned to "The Dean." For instance, did you submit a FAFSA to apply for need-based aid? If so, were you offered any? Did this college meet your full demonstrated need already? (And, if they did, does your aid "package" include loans?) Does this college offer merit scholarships? Did you get one? If yes, does the school typically award merit grants that are larger than yours?

It is possible for you to negotiate with this college to get some money — or additional money — but you will have to initiate the process. Don't wait for such good news to simply show up in the next email. If you completed a FAFSA and have already been awarded aid, then you can certainly ask for more, if your full demonstrated need has not been met. If your financial aid package (whether your full need was met or not) includes part grant and part loan, you can request that the distribution be shifted to lower or eliminate the loan and replace it with grant. If your college offers merit scholarships and not just need-based aid, you can also request a merit scholarship (or a larger one if you've been given merit money but not this school's top dollar).

College officials expect to hear from many students and parents whose financial requirements have changed significantly in the past couple months. Institutions that have the resources to do so will be adjusting aid awards to accommodate families whose income, assets and future earnings have been torpedoed by the pandemic. If this is YOU, approach your eager college with some numbers that corroborate your financial concerns (amount of lost income and projected losses, etc.). As with any financial aid appeal even during "normal" times (remember those?), your best strategy is to be polite but persistent ... and never entitled, no matter how hard a hit your family has taken.

Because most admission officers are worried about filling their freshman classes during these troubled times, it's likely that they are open to discussions with all accepted applicants who are hoping for more dough. But their priority will be to first help those who can only enroll with additional assistance.

About the Ask the Dean Column

Sally Rubenstone is a veteran of the college admissions process and is the co-author of three books covering admissions. She worked as a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years and has also served as an independent college counselor, in addition to working as a senior advisor at College Confidential since 2002. If you'd like to submit a question to The Dean, please email us at editorial@collegeconfidential.com.

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Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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