How can parents increase their financial aid package if they don’t like the amount being offered?
If you have extenuating circumstances like a recent loss of job or death of a family wage earner, that’s the time to notify a college and they will increase your financial aid.
But if you have no extenuating circumstances, my favorite tactic is to start a bidding war between the colleges who have offered more money than the college your child wants to attend.
Of course, that assumes your child applied to colleges which are all in the same league academically - who regard each other as honest competitors.
A college accepted your child because it was a good business decision, and they are likely to take your request very seriously.
How do you make that bidding war work so the colleges take you seriously?
First and foremost, be sure the letter comes from the student, not from the parent - it creates a very positive impression.
And the tone is critical. This is really SUCK-UP time, and you’d better be good at it. To be good at it, be dispassionate and brief as in this statement:
“Thank you very much for your aid package; however, as much as I really want to attend your college, I am being offered more money from my second choice college. Attached is their offer, and I would appreciate any help you can give me to make my decision final to attend your college.”
They won’t like the fact that you appealed, but colleges are a business, and there's a 50-50 chance they will make you another and better offer (except for most state colleges).
If they don’t come back with a better aid package, I’d look for another college to attend, or accept the offer and move on.
NOTE: Before this post, you gave yourself a ZERO chance for more money; now it's up to 50%. You're way ahead. Go for it!