Summer melt is the term used to describe the phenomenon where recent high school graduates change their mind about the college to which they committed in the spring. While the rate of summer melt varies by school and by student demographic, one thing is fairly consistent: When students opt out of a school, the financial aid committed to them becomes available once again.

There are a couple of ways to take advantage of this:

  • Merit aid: There may be scholarship money that is once again available due to someone opting out of your school. This may require an application, so when you contact your school be sure to get the details on how to become eligible.
  • Need-based aid: If your financial circumstances have changed, now is the best time to reach out to your school for additional aid. Expect that more documentation will be required and be sure to understand your school’s process.

Remember that summer melt happens to a lot of students– as many as one in five, by some estimates– for a lot of reasons. And forfeiting your deposit is expensive. Most important, it can get a student off-track for completing a college degree, so it’s something you want your own student to avoid. Many colleges are increasing their engagement tools for incoming students in the hope of reducing summer melt. As a parent, you have a role too: guiding your student towards a “best fit” college, keeping them on track to enroll, and making sure that there’s a Plan B in case their first choice school ultimately ends up not being the right choice.