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How This Student Got His First-Choice College To Offer More Financial Aid

Carly Gillis
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When high school senior Ryan Piontek of St. Charles, Illinois, was looking at schools, he wanted to know how they could help him pursue his life’s passion — baseball.

He soon found a great fit with Calvin College, which offered him some incredible opportunities for his dreams of double majoring in Spanish and Sports Management.

But there was just one problem — other schools offered him more financial aid.

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

After some research, Ryan and his dad discovered that there was a way they could re-negotiate their aid award. Submitting an “aid appeal” is a widely accepted practice, but not many students have the time or the awareness to do it.

“My dad and I had no idea that you can go back to ask for more money,” says Ryan.

Instead, many students just pull out loans when the time comes, or spend long hours trying to find free money from highly competitive private sources.

“I know other students who are spending their entire life doing scholarship essays and stuff,” says Ryan. “Aid appeal is so much better than writing a million essays.”

Ryan already had a personal relationship with Calvin College. He talked with professors there to see if they’d consider creating a study abroad program where he could work with baseball players in Cuba, and they were all too thrilled to work it out.

Ryan, left, with Jose Abreu, first baseman for the Chicago White Sox (via Twitter).

“One of the deciding factors of going to this school was to make this happen,” says Ryan.

He asked Frank to help renegotiate his aid award package from Calvin College, and the school was all too happy to comply. Ryan eventually received an additional $2,000 per year — money that can help him fund his dreams.

“Every dollar I don’t have to give the college I can use on my life goals.”

This isn’t just about getting more financial aid. It’s about the freedom of choosing a path based on the future it offers — rather than just its price of admission.

“Your high school counselors are overwhelmed, you go to seminars and that doesn’t help, you get a list of scholarships — but there’s no one providing personal assistance,” says Ryan. “But Frank is like a really good friend that provides expert advice.”

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We are not affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education. Federal Student Aid (FSA), an office of the U.S. Department of Education, makes the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and assistance available to the public for free at fafsa.gov.