Financial Aid Gaps
When you apply the student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC) toward the Cost of Attendance (COA), you are left with the student's documented financial need, all of which are associated with aid eligibility. However, just because a student is eligible for financial aid does not mean that all his/her financial need will be met. Not all schools meet full financial need for students; students may need to pay more money out of pocket or find additional sources of aid on his or her own.
A financial aid gap occurs when an institution’s financial aid package does not cover the student’s entire financial need. Gaps can vary from hundreds of dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
Financial Aid Appeals
Students and families can appeal to a college for more financial aid, although it is up the professional judgment of the financial aid officers as to whether or not they are awarded more aid. Circumstances that warrant an appeal include:
- Changes in financial circumstances since financial aid application (examples: death, divorce, job loss, medical expenses, natural disasters);
- Financial obligations not captured on FAFSA such as excessive parent debt or expenses related to other children;
- Missing aid such as when a student is not receiving aid that they are eligible for;
- Receiving a much more competitive package at a comparable college.
In any of these situations, there is a set of good practices to keep in mind. First and foremost, encourage student self-advocacy. Because of privacy laws, as a PM there is little information a financial aid office can share with you. Moreover, you should highlight to students and their families that they should have a clear reason for appealing, not to mention that they need to provide documentation to support their claims.
If a student or family is interested in appealing the financial aid package, the student should contact a financial aid officer at the institution to initiate the process.
Click here for more information on financial aid appeals.
Click here for a website that helps generate form letters on financial aid appeals.
Additional loans and payment plans
Help students understand the difference between public and private loans, the vocabulary around interest rates, fixed or variable loans, and what repayment terms are. Students should meet with a financial aid counselor at their college to discuss what is best for them and their families.
Parent Plus Loans
Parent PLUS loans requires a student’s parents to pass a credit check. If a parent is denied a PLUS loan, the student will be eligible to take out up to $4,000 in additional loans in their own name. Read more about Parent Plus loans here.
Private loan providers that students have used in the past will usually be listed on a college’s website or within their financial aid office. This might be a good starting point for research.
Colleges offer payment plans which can break up the cost of tuition into equal monthly installments, often over a 10-month period or by semester.If students are interested in enrolling in a payment plan, they should:
- Visit the financial aid website;
- Understand the steps they need to enroll (i.e. enrollment fee, bank account information);
- Sign up for the plan that meets their needs and budget (i.e. 10-month, 6-month, etc).