So much money is left on the table because students who are dissatisfied with their financial aid package simply accept it. Write a letter to the financial aid office or ask what the appeal process is! They don’t tell accepted applicants about the appeal process for a reason: More appeals means less money for colleges! If you got into multiple colleges, and a comparable college, but not your first choice, offers a better financial package, use that as leverage in making your appeal succeed! If the school really wants you, they will at least match the competitor’s package.
2. Get a Job!
You may qualify for federal work study! Even if you don’t, getting a job is not necessarily a bad thing. See if your department offers jobs as a tutor or check out places like the admissions office, campus center, or dining hall for potential job postings! Places like Chipotle and Starbucks offer tuition reimbursement for part-time workers. Many jobs have low time commitments and you learn responsibility, discipline, and important job skills through the process. Oh, and the money helps.
3. Apply for scholarships!
So you didn’t win the scholarship game (or enter at all) your senior year in high school. It doesn’t stop there! There are so many college scholarships that go unclaimed and many more that are simply waiting for your application! You can also use databases like FastWeb and Cappex that are able to aid scholarship search. Even your college should have resources in place for needy students looking for scholarship opportunities.
List of April 2016 scholarships: http://jlvcollegecounseling.com/2016/02/26/scholarships-with-april-2016-deadlines/
4. …Loans… *groans*
If worst comes to worst, then you may have to take out loans, but don’t let the horror stories scare you! Many colleges offer interest-free loans and it is in their best interest to make sure their students do not graduate in heaps of debt. Let me repeat that. Colleges DO NOT want to saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in debt.
Whether you come from a low-income background or a comfortably middle-class family, money will always be a concern — but you don't need to let it be a damper on your college experience!