Is the College Gapping You?

college gappingCollege acceptances for regular decision will be arriving soon. The excitement over getting into a school is wonderful! So, your student is admitted … but what happens afterwards?

If you applied for financial aid by completing the FAFSA, the financial aid package will arrive shortly. Then, the decision process begin. You’ll need to compare awards and determine which college is the best financial investment.

But what if the college doesn’t meet all of your financial need? Your expected family contribution was one number and their cost of attendance is another.  After reading through the paperwork, you find some room in the middle? There’s no overlap?

Accepting a student and then not offering them enough financial aid to afford the college is known as “gapping,” or “admit/deny”.

Is the college gapping you?

According to The 2014 Survey of College and University Admissions Directors, over half of college admissions directors practice gapping at their institutions, although it is much more common in private schools. 72% of private college directors and 39% of public college directors say that they “gap” students.  The majority of private college directors, and about a third of public school directors say the practice both is necessary and ethical.

Why do they give with one hand and take away with another? Gapping often happens when the student is at the bottom of the applicant pool. Often, the gap between what affordability and the college offer can often be thousands of dollars.

RELATED: Major choice – Striking the balance between inspiration and reality

The best defense against gapping? If the student has applied to colleges that are a good fit, they’re less likely to find yourself with “in between” room.

A greater share of financial aid money will be offered to attractive, “in demand” students.

If you determine that a college is gapping you, you should take a hard look at attending another institution, with a better financial aid offer. You could also contact the gapping college and ask to review your offer. Sometimes schools will negotiate with students.

You should mind the gap. It’s there for a reason.

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