...from GuidedPath Edge Guru

Seniors: Using the First-choice Aid Strategy

first choice aid strategy

At this point, you probably have several college offers now with more coming this month. You excited about your options, but one school in particular stands out as your first choice. You wonder if you can afford the school. Now is the time to use the “First Choice” Strategy.  This strategy may help increase the amount of money you receive from your first-choice school.  This strategy works best if YOU, the student, contacts the school, rather than your parents or a counselor. 

Goal: To get the best possible offer from your first-choice school. 


  1. Choose another school with a better money offer. It can be more grants or scholarships. Less parent loans, work-study, etc. 
  2. Write a letter contacting your first-choice school and let them know, in a polite and respectful way, you have another offer. Send them an email and a paper letter by mail. Here’s an example: 


“Dear Office of Admissions at xxxx school. 

I am so excited to be admitted for the fall of 2018. I …. (visited, talked to an admissions representative, etc.) and feel [xxxx – school name here] offers me everything I need as an incoming freshman student.  This is my first choice.   

I received a financial aid award from [xxxx-school name here] in the amount of [$.xxxxx]. I am grateful this offer. However, I received an award from [XXXX – other school], for  $xxxx.   It is hard to turn down a more generous financial aid package.  Are there any additional financial resources to that I may be eligible for at [xxxx- first-choice school]?  [Enter what would make a difference here- less parent loan, more work-study, more merit awards, etc.] 

I look forward to hearing from you. I want to be a [xxxxx] (enter school’s mascot) next year. 

your name and contact information 


  1. Follow up.  Follow up with a phone call to the college admissions or financial aid office within a week of sending your letter.  The college will be glad to hear from you. Let them know time ispressingand ask when you might hear from them. 

This strategy, done politely and respectfully, lets the college know you are serious about attending, and gives them an opportunity to consider any additional resources. 

Take Action 

Be sure to enter all your financial awards in GuidedPath under Decisions.  Use the Cost Comparisons tool to compare total costs and check for your best awards.