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           the SAR__________________________________________
      College acceptance notifications are not the only things you are anxiously awaiting during your senior year in high school. If you applied for financial aid you are probably also very concerned about receiving the award letter.

However, receiving the letter does not guarantee that you will receive the money outlined in the offer, there are still several steps you must take:

Read all letters carefully and make sure all information is up-to-date and accurate. Otherwise, your financial aid award might be delayed. Respond promptly and provide any additional information if it is requested from any of the following: colleges, federal or state student aid processors, need-analysis service, student aid commission private scholarship organizations.
Get everything in on time. Missing deadlines could jeopardize your financial aid offer.
All forms will have you indicate whether or not you are agreeing to accept the offer.

Accepting the offer
If you agree to accept what a college offers you, sign the offer and send it back to the financial aid office promptly.

Declining or renegotiating the offer
There are several reasons you might decline the offer. If you are doing so because you wish to make changes, keep in mind points made in tips for getting the best financial aid package.

But before you accept or decline an offer READ ON! . . .

These items will be addressed in your financial aid award letter. Rates of interest for federal, state, and college loans can change, but cannot go above a certain level. Repayment schedules will be outlined. Under adverse circumstances, you can try to arrange a new payment schedule upon graduation. Understand "Student Rights and Responsibilities" These are the guidelines that you must adhere to when accepting financial aid money. Your award letter should include a copy of these regulations. It is important that you understand your obligation to repay the loans when you accept them.

More than a few college graduates ruin their credit rating after college by failing to repay their college loans. It is your responsibility to pay your loans on time and make sure that the loan company receives your payment.

Report changes to the financial aid office immediately, before accepting your financial award. Changes such as the following demand prompt notification:

An increase or decrease in your parents' salary or general financial situation. An increase or decrease in your own salary if you have declared this on you financial aid application. If you receive more money for your education from outside sources such as private scholarships or fellowships. These changes will most likely result in a change in your offer. Make sure you provide the financial aid office with prompt notification and the proper documentation.

Once you've received your award letter, there are various ways you can increase the amount on that total line.

Bargain with the school: Colleges keep extra funds on hand for contingencies. You may persuade them that they overlooked your family’s special circumstances. Alternatively, you may present a more generous offer from a competing college. Here is what you should do:
  • Make an appointment to talk with the director of financial aid.
  • Prepare relevant documentation to support your argument.
  • Prepare a list of expenditures not covered on the aid application.
  • Show a more generous offer from a competing college to encourage the school to review their own offer.
  • Write and send a follow-up letter confirming the agreement reached.
  • Ask if it's guaranteed
  • Seek a price guarantee. A number of colleges and universities have committed to limit future price increases. Try to lock in the aid package for all years you will be at school.

Financial aid money can be dispersed in variety of different ways. Find out if your award money will be sent to you directly as a check or deposited directly into your financial aid account at school.

In some cases, private scholarships won by you may need to be dispersed through the College’s Financial Aid office.

Most important of all, find out when your money will be available -- don't create financial emergencies for yourself by waiting for a "later than expected" financial aid check.

  FASTaiD© 1998 CEE       All rights reserved. Do not copy or redistribute in any form.         Mail: Editor