1. Education

Preparing for the Admission Notification and Financial Aid Letter

What To Do When You Get Your Letter


Brian Fisher

Brian Fisher

Photo © Brian Fisher
Notification day is upon us. In the next day or so private school applicants and families will receive a letter or log into secure web sites to find out if their school(s) believe that they're a good fit and will work well together. Beyond the clean and clear acceptance or denial decisions lie the gray areas - wait list, the school wants more information before deciding, and, maybe the most important, the financial aid package.

Manage Your Expectations

This year- with unsettled markets and all that means for school and individual incomes- it's more important than usual to breathe deeply and prepare for the scenarios that you might see and the choices you might have to make. Manage and temper your expectations. No one, has a crystal ball or can make any accurate predictions as to how financial aid awards will come out this year. Will funding stay at past year levels; will funding increase; will funding decrease; will some schools transfer monies cut from other school areas into financial aid this year; are some schools dipping into endowment monies to help students and families weather the tight times? The answers to these and similar questions will prove unique to each school and there is no way to predict anything this admission season.

Financial Aid Is Tough To Predict

No one has a crystal ball that can provide insight as to how schools will work through the admission and aid season with families. Some families will receive what they need; some will receive smaller packages than they need.

As a family, be ready for both. If you receive the aid you need, congratulations. If your aid package comes-up short, the best thing that you can do is communicate with your school.

Communicate With The School

Keep communicating with your admission/aid officer; ask questions; seek and pursue options. If you have ongoing situations at more than one school, you might want to ask about your chances of getting the aid you need. Your standing at each school might allow you to withdraw from the pool at a school where you're unlikely to receive a usable aid package. You could, then, focus your attention on a school or two that are more likely to provide a usable FA package.

Breathe and work through the process. But this year- more than any other that I've been in the business- be prepared to accept that aid monies might not materialize this year. None of us have a 'magic money hat' from which we can pull funding.

A Note from your Guide: Brian Fisher is a partner in AdmissionsQuest, an educational consultancy practice. The firm has its finger on the pulse of the private school admissions scene. I am most grateful to Brian for his sound advice.

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