Cutting the Cost of College

Now more than ever, it may pay for students to negotiate with colleges to get more money towards tuition  

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North Crowley High School student Elijah Strong is going to Wylie College in the fall but admits the past year of planning has been tough. 

"I've been fortunate to get some sort of funding." 

Paying for college is always a challenge for most families, but this year, more students and parents are having to make tough choices.

"COVID-19 has hit our family pretty hard financially," said Amy Jenkins, of Frisco.

Her daughter, Ash, wants to study large animal conservation at Colorado State University and Amy said the only way that will happen is if the school gives them more money.

"We're going to have to have them probably offer us in-state tuition to be able to go there," Jenkins said.

Financial experts say every family or student should approach college costs the same way they would buy a car or a house: don't take the first offer.

"A lot of students don't know that the first offer they receive from the college is probably not the best offer," said Certified Financial Planner Melissa Brennan. "And so they should go back and ask for more money, if that's what they need."

Mark Salisbury launched the website TuitionFit.Org, where he is asking students to share their award letters -- essentially publicizing financial aid awards for all to see. That way you can see what other students with the same credentials as you are being offered at the schools you're interested in.

"'Then you just sit," Salisbury said. "You just be patient and wait until the spring, wait until May, when you can start to negotiate with schools and you can start to really talk about what's the price that you're going to ask me to pay, and make the case that I'm not sure I'm convinced that the price you're asking me to pay meets the value you claim you offer."

"You can make a very compelling case because the colleges this year are really in need of students, there's way more supply than there is demand, and you can drive the price by being a savvy consumer -- if you have the information.

Amy Jenkins said she will be ready, in May, to ask for more..

"I really want my daughter's dream to come true. We're just doing everything possible for that to happen," Jenkins said.

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