Paying for College

Is Financial Aid Negotiable?

Even though the May 1 enrollment deadline for most colleges has passed, the goal of paying for college may remain a quest for some families. With the good news of college acceptances, come the financial aid packages. First-year aid packages are almost always the most satisfying, since their heft is designed to encourage enrollment, as colleges woo their accepted applicants among heavy competition from other schools.

This first-year flush of aid is known as “front loading." That means that colleges put their best financial aid foot forward that first year. The consequence of front loading is that some (many?) times, the aid packages of following years decline and package components shift from grants and scholarships to loans of various types. This is the old football running-back move of “give 'em a leg and then take it away," a kind of financial aid head fake.

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