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As mentioned in my last blog I didn’t spend the entire summer lounging around watching movies and catching up on my book list. I wouldn’t be very helpful if I didn’t keep my ear to the pavement to stay aware of new ways to help college students pay for tuition, books, rent, etc. I try to stay fairly current on the financial aid front and it’s always nice to earn something new that I can pass on.

Recently I learned about something called “summer melt” which surprisingly is not about sitting in an open field at a concert festival in 100 degree heat. “Summer melt” is actually a yearly phenomenon that occurs when incoming students make a last minute decision to NOT to attend a certain college or any college at all. More often than not these would be students are leaving financial aid packages on the table. All that money then goes back into a collective pool where it sits until someone asks for it. Apparently summer melt has grown bigger and bigger every year. More and more people are deciding to attend college, creating significantly more financial aid than was previously available. When a student gets accepted to a school an Aid package is created. If a student is accepted to 5 schools, 5 Aid packages get created with 4 of them ultimately becoming someone else’s extra financial aid if they know how to get it.

Receiving summer melt financial aid is actually remarkably simply, just ask for it. As with most things in life, if you don’t ask for it, you probably won’t get it. Ultimately, financial aid is there to be given away. Its sole purpose is to be given away to students like you. Even if you are already the recipient of a Financial Aid package there is nothing preventing you from receiving more assistance.

The best way to ask for additional financial aid is with a well written letter. If you are receiving Aid, thank the school for that. Confirm that you will be attending school the upcoming semester and simply inquire as to whether there are additional financial aid packages available now that other students have made their enrollment decisions. If your financial situation has changed since your original Aid package was awarded it is important to let the school know that. Be courteous, grateful, and excited to attend school in your letter. Then, follow up with a phone call a week later, or better yet stop into the Financial Aid Office a few days before school starts and sit down with a counselor. Be courteous, polite, and grateful- never forget you are begging for free money. You may just walk out of the office with more aid and less stress than thought possible.

By Dan Russell

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