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Saving Money With a College's Summer Melt

You want to know what colleges fear most at this time of year? Summer melt.
Summer melt refers to the number of freshmen whom a college expects to show up in the fall who disappear.

One reason for the freshmen disappearance is abuse of the college deposit requirement. Parents must reserve their child's spot in a college's freshman class by writing a deposit check -- usually by May 1.

Families are only supposed to write one check, but sly parents are submitting more deposits. According to a new survey of freshmen that I wrote about yesterday, 7.5% of high school seniors said they had double deposited and 1.8% had tripled deposited, while 1% sent in even more deposits.

Taking Advantage of Summer Melt

So how can the summer melt help families cut the cost of college?

Summer melt can provide families with an opportunity to squeeze more merit money from colleges. Especially for smaller schools, having too many freshmen disappear can be a financial disaster. Schools that don't have a wait list -- and beyond the elite schools wait lists are rare -- could be willing to increase teens' merit awards if they are scared of meeting their enrollment numbers.

Thanks to enrollment practices, a school often will only give a student just enough of an award in its original financial aid/merit aid package that it assumes it will take to seal the deal. To see if you can increase your award, contact the financial aid office and be nice when asking for more money. And don't mention that you're calling because of summer melt.

Read More on CBS MoneyWatch:

Why America's Most Expensive Colleges Could Hurt Your Wallet
Where Professors Send Their Children to College
25 Private Colleges With the Best Graduation Rates
Here's the Nation's Easiest College Major
Lynn O'Shaughnessy is author of The College Solution, an Amazon bestseller, and she also writes her own college blog at The College Solution.
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