Negotiation Experts on Scholarships: This Is How You Win

Tuition costs are skyrocketing. The average college program costs $35,551 a year, according to the Education Data Initiative. Scholarships are a great way to cut down on the cost of college attendance. However, if the amount you’ve been offered isn’t as much as you’d hoped, there’s still room to negotiate.

Here are tips from Negotiation Experts that you can use to handle the process like a pro.

Outline your goals

Setting clear goals helps you map out the steps toward your final destination. It also helps you keep your eye on the prize. Outlining your goals doesn’t mean closing yourself off to other possibilities. It means not losing sight of what you aspire to. It’s a horrible feeling to accept something, only to realize later it’s not what you wanted.

So, seriously think about what could improve the award. Don’t be afraid to aim high. You never know what you’ll get unless you ask. If you have multiple goals, prioritize them based on their importance. That way, you can identify what you’re willing to give up and what is a necessity.

Build a strong case

Once you know what you want, you need to make a strong case for why you deserve it. It helps to show, not tell. So, rather than just saying you need more money, use data to illustrate your point. A personal statement that includes stories can also make your request memorable and relatable. So, if you have a story that explains your need, share it.

Knowing the background of the scholarship provider can also make your case more relatable. For example, if the scholarship is from a corporation, focus on how your degree will help you in your future career with that company. If an individual donor is funding the scholarship, try to find something you have in common. Like if they’re a first-generation college student, you can discuss how much this scholarship would mean to you as a first-generation college student.

Choose the right time

The timing of your request is important. Try to avoid negotiating during peak busy periods. For example, the beginning or end of a semester is often hectic for staff. They’re trying to get everything done before everyone leaves for winter break or summer vacation. So, if you can, wait until after those periods to have your conversation.

Also, make sure you understand the donor’s timeline. Scholarship acceptances are rarely open-ended. There’s usually a set date by which to accept or decline the award. You want to give your donor time to read and digest your letter before that date. That way, if they’re able to make a change, it won’t be a rushed decision.

Leverage other offers

Schools have a lot riding on scholarships. Scholarship candidates reflect on the school’s image and ranking. So, they want to make sure their investment pays off. You can use this to your advantage. If you’ve received an award from a competing school, you can use this as leverage.

Showing that you’re in demand could encourage the first school to sweeten its offer. This strategy is most effective if the competing school is equal to or better than the one you’re negotiating with. If you don’t have another offer, you can still use this tactic. Instead of another school, pretend you’re considering taking a gap year. This puts pressure on the school to give you an offer you can’t refuse, or risk losing you altogether.

Negotiating your scholarship can be daunting. But pushing through the discomfort can make your college dreams a reality. Use these tips to increase your chances of getting the award you deserve.

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