Putting yourself through a graduate degree program is incredibly rewarding, and the new skills you learn are priceless. However, earning your master’s degree comes with a price tag and a hefty one at that. Although any amount of extra money given to you by your prospective school is something to be grateful for, it still may not be enough to support you through graduation. If that’s the case, don’t give up on your dream school just yet — it’s possible that you can negotiate for more graduate financial aid. Here are some tips to help you navigate this process.

Things to Avoid When Requesting More Financial Aid for Your Master’s Degree

Before getting into the things you should do, it’s important to know what you should avoid doing when it comes to negotiating your grad school financial aid package. According to Dr. Don Martin, who has experience working for admissions and has seen many negotiating mistakes, you shouldn’t tell grad school “A” how much money grad school “B” has given you, unless specifically asked. Another negotiating mistake that can potentially backfire is disclosing that, without more money, you’ll be unable to attend. Grad schools have their own budgets and may not be able to give you more money. You don’t want to give them the impression that, even with their most generous financial aid offer, you won’t be able to afford their tuition. If finances are preventing you from attending a school, instead of negotiating, you can file a formal appeal through FAFSA.

Prepare Your Financial Aid Request Thoroughly

Before contacting a grad school with your request for more money, make sure you have every relevant document that could help support your negotiation terms. Be as detailed and thorough as possible, making sure to provide facts, figures, and dates for every claim you make. This will not only show that your request is legitimate but also highlight how interested you are in attending the school. Use this as an opportunity to demonstrate your commitment to working with the school’s administration to make your enrollment a reality. In addition to thorough research and documented proof, make sure your requests are specific. Let them know exactly what you need from them to be able to attend. It shows that you have done your research and that you’re taking the process seriously.

Remember to be Polite and Reasonable

Grad schools don’t have to give you anything, so before making any requests, make sure your letter begins by establishing how grateful you are for the money a school has already given to you. You’re more likely to get what you want if you ask kindly and show appreciation for a school’s generosity. Also, be realistic with your negotiations. Getting a grad school to pay for your master’s degree in full is everyone’s dream; however, the school gives out a lot of money and you aren’t the only student in need of more financial aid. So, if you ask for the moon, you risk offending the school.

Follow Up

Don’t be discouraged if your requests for financial aid are denied the first time. It isn’t common for schools to increase the amount they have already offered — not because they don’t want to, but because they may have offered you as much as possible in their original financial aid package. However, your chances of being granted more money increase substantially if you are consistent with your requests. Continue to advocate for yourself, and don’t allow financial circumstances to prevent you from attending your ideal master’s degree program.