I had no idea that you could talk to the Financial Aid office and negotiate! Well, I did it. Tell everyone you know. This is the best kept secret (as far as I'm concerned) about paying for college. I got them to increase his scholarship. AMAZING!!!!
#1: Apply to anywhere you want to go even if financially is it out of your reach. If you get accepted the school will put together a package so that you can afford it.
#2: Apply to more than one school. Most applications ask you to list what other schools you are applying to. If they don't have any competition they are less likely to be in a hurry to accept you.
#3: Ask questions. I have spoken to the FinAid office of 3 very different schools and they are very nice, helpful and willing to answer questions and help educate you on the process.
#4: Fill out the FAFSA (the govt. financial aid form) which ALL the schools use early. Scholarship $ gets given away fast. It's a first come first serve type of deal.
#5: Negotiate! Call, walk thru the numbers with them. I flat out told her, look I can't afford the gap. He simply can't go because the cost is prohibitive. She worked with me and I got and additional 15% in scholarship $. My son is going to the school he wants which is waaaay out of my reach and his aid package comes out to 75% of the cost. The cost not tuition, annual cost, that includes room & board, meals, books, incidentals and a couple trips home.
I did this yesterday and I feel like I won the lottery!