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Top Secrets You Need to Know to Get the Most Money for College

For students, an acceptance letter to the college of their choice looks and smells a lot like freedom. For parents, that letter is more like a ball and chain. A moment of panic is bound to occur as you do the quick math in your head for your child’s four years of schooling. College costs are rising at about 6% year over year, according to Vanguard, which means 18 years from now a four-year trip to the hallowed halls of a private university could amount to nearly $500,000.

Unless you’re a descendant of Warren Buffett you’ll likely need some assistance in securing money for college. Some families say they make too much to qualify for financial aid. But tying yourself to loans are not your only option in this case.

Regardless of your financial scenario, you might be tempted to storm the financial aid office and beg for consideration. Don’t do it. There are better ways to handle securing more money for college. Here are eight ways to do it best.

1. Ask a college to match the aid you received at another institution

catching flying money

catching flying money It’s possible to negotiate for some cash for your college tuition. | HBO

If you’re applying to similar schools close in rankings, it’s possible to engage in a little friendly negotiation to get more money for college. If one school offered you a better financial package than your first-choice school, you can use the better offer as leverage with your top pick.

Tommy Blair, financial aid director at Roanoke College, tells Time, “Show the college the cost they are up against: Here are my awards; here’s what it’s going to cost me to attend college X, Y and Z. I want to be at your school. Can you close the gap?” Remember schools are competing to attract the best students. Be sure to send the school all of your academic qualifications. These things are what will often place you higher on the financial aid ladder.

Next: Applying at a certain time of year is key.

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