"Once you have finally deciphered this aid award letter, you're going to want to appeal your aid," says Javice. "Everyone should appeal their aid package." She says that schools reserve roughly 20 percent of their funds for people who appeal their packages.
Cohen says that students are actually in a position of power when appealing for more financial aid. Schools want all accepted students to attend in order to increase what is known as "yield."
"Generally, once a school admits a student, the institution is very eager for the candidate to attend, so do not be afraid to speak candidly if the school's aid package is hindering your decision to enroll," she explains. "If you review your financial aid offer and decide to appeal for additional money, it is best to contact the financial aid office at the school with which you want to negotiate. If possible, go to the school's financial aid office in person, so you can discuss your specific offer package and your current financial situation."
During the financial aid appeal process, students will want to provide a more detailed description of their backgrounds in order to supplement the information they have already provided. Students should mention if there has been a change in their family structure such as a death, deportation or a divorce and they should also mention if they have been impacted by any environmental events such as a drought, hurricane or flood.
Another way that students can appeal for more aid is by leveraging their other offers. If you received a particularly generous offer from a competing college, students should mention how much the other school is offering. This may lead the school to match or even surpass your biggest financial aid package.
During this appeal process, students should be sure to reiterate how excited and interested you are in attending that school, and stress that they are just doing their best to make their collegiate dreams a reality.
Like this story? Subscribe to CNBC Make It on YouTube!