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Daphné Vanessa

Shamil Rodriguez



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About This Episode

Negotiate and appeal your financial aid. Daphné Vanessa (@daphnevanessa) and Shamil Rodriguez (@shamilrodriguez) discuss how to negotiate and appeal your financial aid packages.

Now is about the time that you are attending new student orientation after receiving your financial aid offers in the spring. Well, you still have time to negotiate your financial aid and receive for funding for school. Get ready to follow along as we share the outline for how to request more financial aid from your school.

Pull out your notebooks and open your minds as Daphné and Shamil take a deep dive into negotiating and appealing your financial aid.



  • How to negotiate and appeal your financial aid;
  • The actual outline of a sample financial aid appeal letter;
  • Events in your life that would cause you to request more financial aid from your school; and
  • How can schools learn more about your complete financial situation.
  • And much more…

Enjoying the show? Leave us a rating and review. Every comment helps! Drop in your IG handle so we can thank you personally!

The Student Loan Podcast Intro (00:00): Welcome to the student loan podcast. Here, you'll find practical advice on tackling student loan debt, paying down your higher education expenses and inspiring stories about paying off student loans. We're your hosts, Daphne, Vanessa and Shamil Rodriguez.

Daphné Vanessa (00:19): Welcome everyone to another episode of the student loan podcast. Before we begin, this is not professional advice. And we speak from our own personal views and opinions. The student loan podcast is brought to you by start new, where you can serve your community and get rewarded with tuition and student loan payments. If you're enjoying the podcast and our content, we would appreciate if you could rate, review and subscribe to our podcast, it helps us grow the show and reach more listeners just like you. And if you know anyone who can benefit from listening to our podcast, please share it with them. For those of you who have already shared, rated and reviewed our podcast. Thank you. So with that, let's get started. So in this segment, we're going to highlight ways that you can negotiate your financial aid package,

Shamil Rodriguez (01:11): What you can negotiate your financial aid package.

Daphné Vanessa (01:14): Absolutely. You definitely can. And we've, we've tried to listen to your feedback. We really appreciate everybody sending an emails because we read them and we respond. And so we are very grateful that people are emailing us to ask for content, a repeated request that keeps coming up is talking about negotiating your financial aid package, because we briefly mentioned it on a previous episode, but the request was that we do a deeper dive makes total sense because here we are in June, you're probably going to start new student orientation soon. And you know, you're, you're beginning the dream of college, right? And so negotiating your financial aid package is really top of mind because you've probably already received your package letter by now. And the question is, is it what you intended? Is it actually, what's going to allow for you and your family to fully support you and for yourself to be fully dedicated while you study. So with that Shamil do you think financial aid can be negotiated? Is that possible? I

Shamil Rodriguez (02:21): Mean, yes. I know that. I mean, we wouldn't be doing this episode without it, but I think that what surprised me is that I didn't know that financial aid package, financial aid can totally be negotiated, but there's an approach to it. You just don't walk into the financial aid office and say, Hey, give me more money. It just doesn't work out that way. Well, you know, Hey, you know, you can share, so your story which is interesting, but each school has a process and we're going to go over those steps of how to get that financial aid and not you know, I did better in school. I should've just get merit based scholarships, but actually if there's been a change in your actual financial situation at home or some of the ways, and there were some of the reasons why as well, that you would actually want to approach the school and let them know, because remember your FASFA, even though it is the document that everyone uses, isn't the only way that a school can learn about your financial situation to see if they can help you achieve your goal of finishing with their institution.

Shamil Rodriguez (03:32): Makes sense

Daphné Vanessa (03:33): Completely, completely true. And there are so many different ways that you can get school paid for, right? There is a combination of federal funding and state grants actually that people may qualify for. And then you also have school, the actual endowment fund of your university has money. And so oftentimes that's allocated towards scholarships. And so it's really a good idea to start a figure out, well, where is the pool of money? How much is it? What's my worth a Schmo is going to go into, like, where do I fall into the scale of how badly this school wants me in? What type of leverage do I have that I can use to negotiate a better package? So yeah, shimmy, I agree you can negotiate your financial aid. And that is a limiting belief that a lot of people have is just the paper that you receive from your dream school. Doesn't have to be what you accept.

Shamil Rodriguez (04:41): Absolutely. And I think that's something that I experienced personally when I got my letter and we've had some of our guests actually say the same thing where they just didn't know, you don't know what you don't know. And unfortunately you just assume that since you received this letter from the school, that they must have done their due diligence and they must have run their calculations, and this is all they can give you. Right? Like, that's just at least what was my mindset. And so I just took it as like, oh, okay, there's a gap in between the, the rest of the cost of school and what I was given as a package. So I just needed to turn with student loans to figure out the rest. Like that was just my, my mindset at that time at 18 years old. But now knowing what I know now, I totally would have given myself different advice to negotiate the package.

Shamil Rodriguez (05:32): I could have written a letter, it will go into more details about what those things could have been, but I could have really gone into sharing why I think that wasn't enough or why I should have more so that I could have taken out less student loan debt and then just directly focused on, on my schoolwork in that way. So yeah, definitely. I think this is going to be one of those really good episodes that gets right to the heart of what you should be thinking about, especially now, when you still have time to work with your school, with his hand, your package for this semester in the school year.

Daphné Vanessa (06:05): Totally agree. And so part of that is you don't want to accept just what's given to you without doing your due diligence and background research. But part of it also is that schools can only make decisions based off of the data that they receive. So the data that they may have for your profile may not be what they need to know to properly give you the right allocation of funds, right? So there are just some things that the forms that are requested, the FAFSA, et cetera, don't explain. And so this is really going to be an opportunity for us to help you give financial aid officers, the documentation that they need to make the right decisions, the right decisions for you.

Shamil Rodriguez (06:58): Yeah. AKA more money for you to go to school. So you're taking out less student loans.

Daphné Vanessa (07:03): And so you can focus right on, on your program. It's such a stress, right? When people don't know how they're going to make the next quarterly or monthly or whatever payment plan you're on, if you, if you went that route. And so that, that could be a stressor that impacts your ability to study and do well. Right. And you want to do well because it's not an exact science, but people who do better tend to get offers straight out of school in the traditional form. So, yeah. And I

Shamil Rodriguez (07:40): Think that it's interesting that you said that because you don't want to just depend on, on your academics for that, right? Because not everyone is going to be the foreign student that graduated the top of their class. But if we're talking about about standing out, that's separate, but in this instance, I think we're going to do a good job of diving into what are some of those reasons that you should consider, because you may not even realize that something happened in your life. That is something that you should actually share with the school, for that they can actually consider that based on the actual data. So Daphne, do you want me to talk about some of those special circumstances that might warrant you going to update your financial aid package or your, you know, or speaking to your school?

Daphné Vanessa (08:26): Yeah, sure. Why not?

Shamil Rodriguez (08:28): Yeah. So some of the things that happen in life, you know, may, or you may not think, or should the school should even know, but that might be something that could benefit you or not seeing that benefit you, but that you should, you should let them know so that it can impact your financial aid package because these events in your life actually do impact you financially can be many things like a divorce, a parent passes away. Let's the person who makes a majority of the income in the household loses their job, right? The pandemic just happened. So this is something that happens to a lot of people, right? Natural disasters that are happening, you know, hurricanes, tornadoes, things like that. You, these are all things that, you know, you may seem and say, I'm going through these experiences, but like, what does it have to do with my school?

Shamil Rodriguez (09:19): And like Daphne had mentioned before with the FASFA, these schools are only working with what they have. And so unless they know more about those specific instances that, that occur in your life, they are going to be able to help you anymore. They can't just give it willy-nilly right. They have to actually have something to point towards to say, Hey, we gave this student more money because they went through this specific hardship where they had a special circumstance, happens to the middle of the lives. And we want to make sure that they can actually, you know, complete their dream of finishing up with our school. And that may include, you know, emergencies that occur at home because of medical care. Right. We never know what's going to happen. And so if you're facing any of these types of special circumstances that I mentioned, and we'll list them in the show notes, but just make sure that you communicate that with your school, because that's something that might help you get more financial aid that you can go to school and finish it. And like Daphne said, have the peace of mind so that you can actually focus on your schoolwork versus stressing about how you're in a page for the next semester, which will absolutely impact your ability to have undivided attention on the goal, which is doing well in school.

Daphné Vanessa (10:33): Yep. And so what those extenuating circumstances, what sharing that will do is help your what's called EFC, your expected family contribution. So there's a formula out there that calculates how much your family is expected to contribute based off of tax documents. You know, how much your family brings in and that number isn't always reflective of all of the circumstances that you're facing in life. Right? So what Shamil just shared are opportunities for you to give a more realistic, funny, estimated financial contribution, estimated family contribution. And it would be helpful to the financial aid office, to your university administration. Generally, if you could help give them the data. So evidence proof, right? You don't just make claims. You want to include supporting documentation. It's not that they don't believe you it's that in order to give government taxpayer funds, they need to have proof, right? Because if the automatically calculated number is way, way lower than what the government's formula calculated, there needs to be proof as a title four school for why they're changing your expected family contribution. So always come in with proof of your extenuating circumstances so that you can actually have a higher likelihood of getting of getting your EFC Lord.

Shamil Rodriguez (12:25): No, no, go ahead. No, I was just going to say that the, that was going to say that the other things to keep in mind when you're doing that is to when you're providing those documents just make sure that you're, you've got everything kind of pre-packaged for them, right? Like you want to make it, help them help you as well. Like really popped in my mind when you were saying that. Definitely because remember, they're dealing with thousands of students depending on the school or the size of your school, and you want to make it as easy as possible possible for your financial aid officer to help you. And so to do that is by collecting everything and having a packet with, you know, with the letter and the documentation, supporting your specific situation in your special circumstance and then giving it to them. So look at it that way, look at it that way to them, help them help you. That's I think probably would be the best way I wanted to add there. Cause I thought it was, it was a helpful point that you brought up.

Daphné Vanessa (13:19): Yup, exactly. And here we go. The, the FAFSA, by the way, automatically creates this EFC number. So just maybe we should do an episode just on the FAFSA, the questions as well, but you're not submitting an extra form for the EFC. It's automatically calculated when you complete the FAFSA. So we'll have to go into more detail on that in another episode. Or else we wouldn't finish what we're going to talk about today, but essentially it's not a separate form. It's the same FAFSA form just for clarity for everybody. Yeah. And so there are reasons when you can negotiate financial aid, right? And so it's about figuring out what those reasons are for you, so that you can negotiate your financial aid package, right? So Chanel spoke about families facing financial hard ship, any sort of extenuating circumstances. That's one reason. Another reason that is more crafty you could say is that you have a better offer from a competing school, right?

Daphné Vanessa (14:45): You got more than one school. And even though that's your school, you don't, you can let them know that, but you can also let them know that potentially another dream school also gave you an offer. Because remember, at the end of the day, you are, you could say the players, you are the players on the NBA team, that these universities to where the teams want to acquire, and they want the best for their teams. Why? Because then they win games. The games that universities are trying to win are scores, jobs that students get afterwards, those types of things. So they see a high potential student they're going to, you know, fight. It's like when, when you're leaving your uncle's house and you have two uncles there and one is like, here's a hundred dollars. See you next summer. And the other uncles like, well, then here's $200. And then the other uncle is like, well, here's $300. Well, if that were actually to be true,

Shamil Rodriguez (15:48): I need your, I need your uncles

Daphné Vanessa (15:52): True. But if that were actually to be true in the university, since it would be one university saying, well, here's $50,000 and another one saying, well, here's 75 and back and forth. So you want to enable that fruitful conversation so that you can make a decision on the best school that, that you can go to. And while just saying something is always you know, it's good to give people notice the best thing you can do is show data. Like, here's my offer letter from X school and you are Y school. And so I just want to let you know that it looks like they're giving more money. I really would love to go to your school. Why? But you need to give me something that's a little bit more competitive. That's a real conversation.

Shamil Rodriguez (16:43): Hmm. No, I think it's, you bring up a good point there because what you're, what you're really touching on is the idea that you, you and I, and I'm talking to, to everyone who's listening, you are the actual Daphne. It's like the player, right? The way I like to look at it in another, another analogy to use is that like you are what make it work like you? And I say it being the system, or like without you, there is no school that it's very simple to get lost into the idea like, oh, so many people are applying that like, I'm just a number, but like if no one applies, there's no school. And I, and it seems super simple that concept, but I just need you to keep that in your mind when you're thinking about whether or not you even want to pursue the idea of appealing your initial financial aid process, or just like explaining more details about your financial situation that may not have been captured in the FASFA, or like Daphne is saying, if you've got a better offer from another school, because if you, if you really think about it, that you are the one that creates the legacy, the school provides you with the mechanism, right?

Shamil Rodriguez (17:56): Like they've got the system in place for you to be successful. But in the end you are, this has to do the work. You get, you try to get the internships, you have to apply for those internships. You've got to go through interviews for these jobs. When you get there, you have to perform in these jobs. And the performance that you do is typically based on the experience that you've built when you were in high school or what you learned from your family, right? The school doesn't put you through this rigorous, you know, training camp for how you're going to be successful afterwards, right. Or while you're in school, they're trying to do that while you're going through the process. But the reality is you're bringing in a lot of your experience that you've developed before you got to college into your first time internship when you're a freshmen in the summer summer of your freshman year or into your other internships, as you go through school.

Shamil Rodriguez (18:43): And, and you know, you'll shift as you learn from your professors, as you learn from your classmates and you see that, you know, you see other people's experiences and you start to take a tip from here and take a little experience from somebody else there. And you start to apply it into your own opportunities. But the reality is you are the star, you are 1000% the star and the school needs you. And so take that mindset and then think about the question of, should I ask for more financial aid, if you, if you think about yourself in that way, and then ask yourself that question, I'm pretty sure that if you already didn't say that I should appeal for more than you might consider doing it. Now, when you think about you are the actual person that makes the system work without you, there is no school.

Daphné Vanessa (19:28): Yeah. Completely agree. And in addition to that, another reason you can negotiate financial aid is because you haven't given the bigger picture. And so that bigger picture can be because time has passed, right? When you apply to a school, they see a snapshot of who you are almost a year before you start school. So a lot can happen in a year, right? Your grades could have improved. You could have had an awesome experience at a nonprofit where you gained really unique skill sets. You could have created a company, a startup there's. So there's so much that could have happened in a year, that you should leverage that time to showcase any improvements that you've made. So if that's improvements in your academic record, then you should share that because maybe you're eligible for more academic scholarships. If that's improvement in your work experience and non-profit volunteering experience, then maybe that's something that you could share cause you're you're eligible for any impact scholarships. And then if that's an improvement in your ability to showcase a certain skillset early, you started a company, or you acquired a certification at a young age, something like that, then that's something that you can even share because this makes you a more attractive student for the university. They want to have those, those unique skillsets. So those change taking advantage of the change time between when you apply and when you actually start school is a huge opportunity.

Shamil Rodriguez (21:15): Well said, well said. Absolutely,

Daphné Vanessa (21:19): Definitely. And so before we get into how to negotiate your financial aid, I would love to walk people through what negotiating your financial aid package is and what it is not negotiating your financial aid is the ability to receive a new offer letter. But it is just, that is an offer letter. It is not a guarantee of any sort. And so I think that should just be clear to people because sometimes people think that the letter that they receive guarantees, they haven't read the fine print. And when you read the fine print, these are generally offered.

Shamil Rodriguez (21:59): This comes from somebody who's known, at least to me as the person who reads the fine print.

Daphné Vanessa (22:06): I do enjoy reading companies, terms and conditions for products that I use just to see what I'm getting myself into,

Shamil Rodriguez (22:15): But that's yeah, no, I think that's a good point. And I think let's, let's emphasize the idea that, remember it's an offer letter from the other perspective as well, right. Even though it's not guaranteed, it also means that it's an offer. That means that you can negotiate that offer. And I'm repeating that first step, but let's just keep emphasizing that point. That it's an offer letter. They didn't say this is a take it or leave it letter, right? This is the offer that they're giving you. And if they don't have a full picture, like Daphne had mentioned before, then help them get a bigger picture, help them get a clearer picture by giving them a bit more detail about your circumstances. And if you have used, if you've used that year, since you applied to, when you're about to start to change anything that they didn't know about before then go ahead and share that with them. Yeah, for sure.

Daphné Vanessa (23:04): And another area is to do your research, right? So before starting this process, visit the scholarships page of your, of your university or universities, if you have multiple offers and try to see, well, what scholarships are they offering? Are they offering application based scholarships, funds from benefactors funds or scholarships from various groups? So if it's a Catholic university or their Catholic scholarships, if it is a Jewish university or they're Jewish scholarships, what sort of niche areas are they offering scholarships in that you may or may not qualify for? How many of them are merit based versus how many of them are based just on financial need? So the university has a pool of funds that you should also be looking at in addition to the federal government offer. So the federal government offer is an opportunity. I don't want to minimize it, but usually there's more flexibility with money coming from an endowment fund or separate pool of money that a university has placed for scholarships. So take advantage of that pool of money, right? Because that could be what makes your offer you being able to attend for free or not, or even because there are additional secondary costs with going to school, like living, breathing, and eating. Maybe you can get more scholarship money than the tuition, so you can actually live and attend school. Right. So yeah, those are all the things to think about. Go ahead, Chanel.

Shamil Rodriguez (24:45): No, I think that was a great point because I just remember this from being on the board, you just sparked an idea here that there were times where we actually had folks that were you know, used to go to school at the school or like maybe they worked there for their entire career and would retire. And then, you know, sometimes we'd receive gifts from people that have passed away. Right. And they may have left like a life insurance policy for the school, or they would have left something from their estate for the school. And, you know, those are the things that the school doesn't plan for. Right. or sometimes they do you know, they may actually work that out, but the, the idea is that even if you, like, you just don't know what's out there or like what gifts the school may have received.

Shamil Rodriguez (25:33): Right. And not saying that from the board perspective, I just remember there would be so many gifts that we would receive that were unanticipated. And those were great opportunities that if the students that were in the know the students that like definitely did the research or are communicating with the school, then they could be the people that were receiving these unexpected benefits that the school had received. So keep that in mind that, like, you're not bothering anyone. I'm trying to really emphasize some of like the feedback that I've gotten when we have these types of conversations with people that are in school or that are going to school, is that, you know, it's very easy to think about why you won't get more money. And I think that these are some of the, the limiting beliefs or mental hurdles that people fall into that you got to know that, Hey, there's more to, to it than just saying, I don't want to bother somebody.

Shamil Rodriguez (26:22): Right. Or I, you know, am I good enough to get more money? And it's not necessarily always about just if you aren't good enough, right. It really, it really is about communicating presenting your specific financial situation. And so, you know, when you, when you are reaching out to the school, you never know if you may have just reached out at the right time. Right. It just may have worked out that, that, that, that gift had come in and they were looking to disperse the gift in the way that the, the, the person that had given it, wanted it to be dispersed and at a certain, you know, in a certain way, and then you might fit that profile. And then boom, all of a sudden you've gotten a gift that, that you would have never anticipated and the school may have intubated either. So that's one thing to keep in mind the other, the second thought that popped in there definitely is that if you are, when you're doing your research, look at the different schools that are out there, some websites are going to have more information than others, but just because you can't find certain scholarship information from the school, let's say, you really want to go to, but another school has like a ton of great information and like has their own scholarships use the school that has more like aid information out there for you.

Shamil Rodriguez (27:29): And that approach the school that doesn't have it on their website and say, Hey, do you have a blank scholarship? Do you have this, this and that merit based scholarship, do you have a community based and impact scholarship start using other schools that have like great models for giving financial aid and like scholarships out there and then approach the school that you want to go to that doesn't have that information and say, Hey, do you have this? So now what you're doing is you're, you're using schools that have better just happened to be more organized and present their data differently. And now you're pushing the school and saying, Hey, I saw that this school has this, or don't say it however you want to, and then say, Hey, do you guys offer this? Do you offer that? Do you offer this? You may be surprised that you, they, they may have a binder full of this stuff and they just don't have it on the website. And so you're tapping into a resource that just isn't out there for others to find at this specific time. So, you know, definitely what do you think?

Daphné Vanessa (28:27): Oh, no, that was well way back in the stone ages. When I went to the donor relations office, didn't have like all of their funds publicly available, to my knowledge, I didn't find it through online research. I found it by walking from office to office, finding out that they existed and then walking over to the office and asking questions, telling them about myself, you know, having a conversation. And then when they sort of had a feel for what my personality was, they were able to link me up with donors that wanted to invest or donate to students like, like me, so that wasn't on a website back then. I don't know if it is today, I should check. But that really is a good point. Shamil that there are offline resources that are just as important as the online resources. And in fact, some donors only accept paper applications still. So they do that to limit the amount of, of applications that you get. So any of those paper application, once a yes, in the age of digital, it is an annoyance to go to any postal service. But the truth is that you have a higher chance of getting the scholarship because less people are willing to do it.

Shamil Rodriguez (29:54): So, absolutely. I mean, it's, it's funny because it's like what I had to set actual mail. But that is so true that there, and this is for everybody else. I mean, there's just been, there's one glaring example that comes up where I'm a part of this organization and we give out, we give out several scholarships every single year and every single year for the last, like five or six years, people have been like, the board has been asking for applications because the money is there, but nobody's physically applying. Right. So of course we recommended that they put it online. Right. So that more people could find it. But it just, it's, it's just really supporting the idea that having that, you just said that there are people that want it to be a physical application. And when you've got three applicants for three scholarships, yes, it is getting the money. Right.

Daphné Vanessa (30:50): I'm pretty sure I don't, I wasn't on the other side of the table, but I can close to guarantee just based on the speed that I got accepted by some scholarships that I must've been one of the only candidates, right? Like, or sometimes somebody would approach me and say, Hey, there's this organization that offers scholarships, you should apply. They're low on applicants. The networking aspect of human interaction is actually really important to this as well, because that's how you find out what's available beyond what's online because everything is not online. Believe it or not in 2021, sometimes things are offline as well still. And there's, there's a value to human connection, right? So that's something to think about before we, we move on though, I did want to speak about groups of people that are often ignored in these conversations. There are lots of groups, but I'm going to mention two of them.

Daphné Vanessa (31:49): The first is international students. A lot of the, the advice that we've given may not be applicable to international students. So I just want to give a few words on that. And then the second is transfer students. I've been both of these. So I have personal experience with the fact that when you're an international student, you don't qualify for all of the U S funds because you're not an American resonant yet. And so because of that, there is more of a likelihood that if you don't have stellar academics, that you could be offered just a substantial amount of student loan debt, which may not be what you want. So to help you avoid that student loan debt as an international student, you should look at private organizations and foundations that are offering scholarships, including to international students. So there's the American association of university women.

Daphné Vanessa (32:51): There are tons of scholarship organizations. You could say funds that offer money to international students regardless. And so that one was women's specific. So I'm just going to point you to a website that we are not affiliated with. They're not our partner, but there's an international student website, literally international student.com where you can do a free college scholarship search. And it will give you a list before it international student, there were other websites that listed this, but you can find out programs that allow for international students to get money so that you too don't take out student loans just because you had the blessing of living in another country. And then the second group is transfer students similar to international students is by using the scholarship funds of private foundations. So there are foundations that because transfer students are ignored often in this conversation, just like international students, they're focused on giving undergraduate transfer scholarships.

Daphné Vanessa (34:03): And it comes from the same idea. Usually a person who's leaving money for university or a cause thought, well, let's dedicate this towards a group of people that I'm, I may have a personal connection with. Maybe that person was a transfer student or not, and that greatly impacted their lives. And so they've left a pool of money for future transfer students to have the opportunity to go to school without taking on student loan debt. And so that's another area that people who fall into those categories might want to listen to because, you know, not everybody is getting a straight through school, not everybody's loving the first school that they go to. And so they end up transferring or not everybody wants to live forever in the country that they grew up in. And so they move. So the mobility of human life, and especially as we become more nomadic, the truth is that there's no reason to think that your circumstance limits your financial opportunity. It's just about expanding your horizon and looking in different ways. So I just wanted to point

Shamil Rodriguez (35:13): That nappy. I think that was a really good point to mention the international students and the transfer students. It's so easy to get lost in the sauce there, but we do have people that listen overseas. So maybe there are people that are looking to come in to the states and can learn something from this pod. And so this episode might be something that's really helpful. And maybe we should do an episode or a deep dive into the international student perspective and how loans play an impact. Because since a lot of students that are international students are eligible for a lot of government aid, depending on if they're, you know, safe students from that are citizens of other countries. That's something that we may want to consider since we are the pseudomonal podcast. I like that. Absolutely.

Daphné Vanessa (35:57): And so let's get into the way that you actually negotiate financial aid. So what is the tactical process? Because part of why you guys come here is to get those tips, tricks and steps. And so hopefully we'll be able to walk you through this. Again, this is not professional advice. This is from our own experience and you should always seek the advice of an associated professional to confirm anything that you hear on podcasts, unless people say otherwise.

Shamil Rodriguez (36:29): Yep. Remember Daphne is the person who reads the fine print. So very good disclaimer there.

Daphné Vanessa (36:38): So let's go into financial aid. So you've already filled out the FAFSA. We will do a separate episode on FAFSA. You're going to essentially be writing an appeal letter. And so for people that are straight calming from high school, the appeals process, unless your parents are attorneys may seem foreign to you. So, because it's a, you could think of it almost like going to court, you're writing an appeal that needs supporting documentation. So the more organized it's written, the more clear the wording is, the better likelihood you have of winning. Yes, you probably could engage somebody to do this, but you could also probably do it yourself. As long as you have like the right information. So you draft a letter essentially to the S the, the person that gave you the offer letter, and you're laying out what you would like to change.

Daphné Vanessa (37:40): So you start off, you know, thank you for the offer. I would like to appeal the financial aid package that was offered to me on XX date specifically. And then you list what was offered the offer. I like bold and underlines because it's very clear, but you do, you, you know, and so after that, you say specifically, the reasons why I'd like to appeal in are the reasons are, and then you list all those reasons. So is it extenuating circumstances? Is it whatever the reason is you list everything that happened that is different. And then you say why it's different from whatever premise they may have had. So specifically my expected family contribution was set to X, and it should actually be why, here are the reasons, this reason minus this number, this reason minus another number. And with each claim that you make, you need to either footnote it and have some evidence, or like, see page this, see appendix that, or you can list all the dependencies in the back, but you need to have supporting documentation for the claims that you're making.

Daphné Vanessa (39:01): And if it's a story, the storytelling aspect is very important. Just like you wrote your essay to get into school. You want to draw a person in, and we might do an episode closer to college application times on how to write engaging essays to apply to school. But you can think of it in that sense. You are, you've already gotten into college. So you know how to write in that way. If you're telling a story, you need to channel the storytelling aspect, because that's, what's going to draw somebody in. Remember they see thousands of these applications. They're, you know, people have day jobs. This is a day job perhaps for them. And so they're used to just trying to do as much work as they can so that they can leave at whatever times that they can go move on to their life. And so you have to draw a person in to remove them from that day to day so that they can feel what you're feeling that's really important.

Daphné Vanessa (40:00): And then the last part of it is you then list what, what you want. So write based on XYZ, I think it would be better suited for me to get no, this additional scholarship because of I quote, because of my experience, less, less of a loan package because of this, whatever you use in your explanation, you want to link it at the bottom, in that call to action section, where you're asking for what you think you should be getting. And again, going back not and not to repeat ourselves, but I think it's worth repeating in this instance, if you have a counter offer from another university, it is so helpful to include that letter in your appeal, you know, see appendix C offer letter from competing university that is heavy. So you writing that in that order, try to limit it to two pages, but

Shamil Rodriguez (41:04): After you said all that, right?

Daphné Vanessa (41:09): Just because they're reading so much, if you write more than that, they are probably not going to read it. And I have to be honest, it's probably a page is probably ideal, but this is your money situation. So you want to try to explain as much information as possible. It's so hard. It's like writing the essay, right. Where people are like, you have to be succinct, but you have to tell us everything. And we're like, which one do we do? Yeah,

Shamil Rodriguez (41:32): Yeah. Similar

Daphné Vanessa (41:34): Experience. So I hope that that tactical step-by-step helped you understand how the way that you can negotiate your financial aid is by submitting this letter. And so where are you submitting this letter? There is usually a process called professional judgment at many schools. That's the, essentially the appeals process for financial aid applications. And this became more formalized publicly in the last 10 or 15 years. But before that, it was not as publicized. And so this process is an opportunity now that it's been formalized to go through whatever the steps are. And every school has a different professional judgment process, but it usually involves some sort of appeals letter, like what we just talked about. And sometimes it involves presenting that the appeal directly to the financial aid officer. So you coming in with that letter and then speaking about your circumstances.

Shamil Rodriguez (42:39): So I had a question about this letter. I want to make sure that I answer that one. Daphne, do you have to be an attorney to write these letters? No. Right. Okay. Do you have to think that you're going to court to submit this letter? No. I want to get it out there. Daphne did a great job of giving you what I think is a really good model, right? This is just our opinion based on our experiences, but it's a model that you could use and replicate for yourself so that you can get a better financial aid package. But I want to emphasize that there's a reason why she said only two pages. You're not putting your life story in there, but you're making it just enough. You're basically just creating what I see. Like from a mental perspective, you're trying to create an outline for someone to follow.

Shamil Rodriguez (43:28): And you're just dropping in the support, right? The documents that you have, that support what you're saying, right? You just don't want to say something without having something to back it up. So if you are not familiar with the appendix or you're your parents who may have all these documents for you, don't feel comfortable or whatever, just let them know. This is like your book report, right? This is like a book report that you've written at this point. And you're just trying to use your footnotes or an appendix or a table of content. However you want to organize it. Right. Just make it easier for the person reading the document. It's think of, think of it that way. I don't want to say anything unless I have a paper to back it up. I don't want to say anything about that paper to back it up.

Shamil Rodriguez (44:09): So just keep that in mind, when you're drafting this document one, you don't have to be an attorney to do it. You don't have to make it 20,000 pages, but you do want to back up your, your content. And I think it's really smart to organize the way you present the information in the order that Daphne had just summarized. I, I, we may clip that out separately and share that because I think it was really on point to, to just walk the person step by step by step to the logical conclusion that, Hey, you should give me more money because of everything I just told you,

Daphné Vanessa (44:43): And who knows, if you subscribe, you may be able to receive a template that we email you. Wow. Look at that.

Shamil Rodriguez (44:54): So I think that's fantastic. What do you think that means? Yeah,

Daphné Vanessa (45:00): So that was useful. I hope that that's the level of information that you're looking for. When you talk about ways to negotiate financial aid, if there's anything that you think that we missed or an area that you would like for us to do a deeper dive on, please reach out to us. You can email me@daphneatstartnew.com.

Shamil Rodriguez (45:21): And you can find me as Shamila start new.com.

Daphné Vanessa (45:24): And we love hearing from people. We love chatting. So if you can't tell that's why we have a podcast yeah. Please reach out because we love talking to people.

Shamil Rodriguez (45:37): Absolutely. Okay. Well, Daphne, that's it for me. What about you? I'm all wrapped up. Okay. All right, guys. So if you want more information, like the steps that we talked about, or the certain special family circumstances that might lead you to actually requesting more and sharing more of your financial information with the university, visit the show notes, and you're going to see more information. And like Daphne said, sign up for the newsletter. That's on the show notes page, because you may get a template or a sample of what a letter might look like. And so to find that information, visit the student loan podcast.com forward slash episode 35, that's the student load podcast.com/episode 35.

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