You are counting on the financial aid from your school to pay for your degree. But when the financial aid letter comes in the mail, you are suddenly surprised and worried. You didn’t receive as much as you thought you would. You have no idea how you’re going to pay for school now.
Of course, you can apply for scholarships. There are thousands of scholarships out there for all types of students. But if you’re pressed for time and the school year is about to begin, scholarships may not cut it.
Before you give up on your dream school, you can try writing a financial aid appeal letter! Your financial aid appeal letter can get you the money you deserve.
We’re breaking it down for you today and sharing our guide on how to write a financial aid appeal letter step by step. Plus, we even have an example for you at the end, so you can see exactly how it should be done.
Step 1 – Determine if You Should Appeal Your Financial Aid
It is possible to appeal your financial aid, but you must have a valid reason. There are roughly three different scenarios that might be considered a reason to appeal.
First, if you, or your family’s, financial situation has taken a drastic turn for the worse since applying for financial aid. This could be because of a death, a parent becoming unemployed, a medical emergency, or some other unforeseen event that has drastically impacted your financial situation since applying for FAFSA.
Second, you might also be able to appeal your financial aid if you made an error when filling out the FAFSA that impacted your school’s decision.
A third scenario where you might appeal for more financial aid is if you are asking the school to match a financial aid offer you received from another school.
Step 2 – Don’t Delay – Get Started As Soon As Possible
If it makes sense for you to write a financial appeal letter, you should start writing as soon as possible. That means getting started as soon as you find out you didn’t receive as much financial aid as you need or had hoped. You can even write a financial aid appeal letter immediately, before receiving your initial financial aid, if something happened that caused a drastic change in your finances.
Is It Too Late to Appeal for Financial Aid?
It’s never too late to appeal. You can request an appeal at any point, even in the middle of the year. That being said, the sooner you appeal the better.
That’s because there are thousands of other students receiving financial aid. The longer you wait, the greater the chance is that your college will have already used up their pool of financial aid for the year. The earlier you apply, the better the chance that a college will accept your appeal. Ideally, you can apply well before the fall semester starts, but that shouldn’t stop you from trying later in the year as well.
Step 3 – Find Out What to Include in Your Appeal Letter
Contact your school’s financial aid office and find out their procedure for appealing financial aid. Inquire whether there are any specific forms you need to fill out (every school has different requirements) and the best way to send the letter. Also, find out who you should address the appeal letter to. Once you have that information…
In general, the letter should contain the following information:
- An address to a specific person in the financial aid office. To find this information, you can inquire with the financial aid office and ask who to address the letter to.
- Your reasons for appealing. You should clearly state that you are appealing your financial aid and explain the reasons why. Include any special circumstances you have.
- Relevant documentation that supports your appeal. This may include copies of your parents’ layoff notices, medical bills, bank statements, and letters from a doctor or police.
- Special forms if the financial aid office requires them.
- If you have a more attractive offer from another school, include this in your letter.
- Inquire about the next steps in the appeal process.
Financial Aid Appeal Letter Example
My name is Cory Smith. I’ll be an incoming freshman at the University of Colorado Boulder this fall. Thank you very much for the financial aid you’ve awarded me. Unfortunately, since submitting my financial aid request, my family has experienced some misfortunate events that have changed my financial situation.
My mother was diagnosed with cancer this year and has been undergoing chemotherapy. She has had to leave her full-time job, leaving my father as the sole provider for our family. He has to cover the expenses of three children and my mother’s chemotherapy costs. As a manager at Home Depot, he makes just under $2,000 per month.
As a result of my family’s tight budget, I do not have sufficient funds to cover the additional costs of tuition. I am really worried about my situation, as it has been a dream of mine to go to the University of Colorado Boulder since I was young. I am hoping to study nutrition.
I am requesting that you review my financial aid package and take into consideration the changes in my financial circumstances. Unfortunately, I will only be able to attend the University of Colorado Boulder if I receive more funding. I appreciate your help a lot and that you’ve taken the time to review my appeal.
Attached is a letter from my mother’s oncologist regarding her diagnosis and treatment. You will also find copies of her medical bills. I have also attached and filled out the financial aid appeal form as required by the financial aid office. I am happy to provide additional information or documents if there is a need. Once again, thank you for your time and consideration.
Extra Tips for Writing Your Letter
- Make your letter personal by addressing a specific person in the school’s financial aid office.
- Follow directions. Find out from your school’s financial aid office exactly how to appeal. As mentioned, you may need to fill out specific forms or submit supporting documents. Following directions can make or break your appeal letter!
- Be straightforward and give clear reasons why you are writing your appeal.
- Attach documents that can support your appeal. Send copies of the documents and hold on to the originals. They likely won’t be returned to you.
- Express gratitude to the person you’re writing the letter to.
- Write an appeal letter that is under 1 page.
- Be open and sincere.
- Go over your letter thoroughly and look out for grammar mistakes. Presenting a professional letter will show that you are serious about your education.
- Be confident! Schools need you as much as you need them, especially if you are an excelling student. Schools want to fill their incoming class.
- Appeal for financial aid multiple times if your financial situation changes multiple times.
- Use any fancy fonts. Regular fonts are just fine.
- Complain or look for too much sympathy.
- Have a parent write your letter. Your authentic voice says a lot more than your parents.
- Be overly assertive. You are the one making the request and asking for the favor.
Step 5 – Wait for Your Response!
If you don’t hear from the financial aid office, reach out to make sure they’ve received your letter. If your appeal was accepted, way to go! If you get denied, start looking for scholarships or even other colleges that are less expensive or can offer you more aid.
How Long Does It Take for a Financial Aid Appeal?
You can expect to hear back about your financial aid appeal anywhere from a few days after submitting your appeal letter to a month. Again, this varies from school to school. If you don’t hear back within a few weeks, you can send an email to the address where you submitted your letter or call the financial aid office to make sure they’ve received your letter.
Step 6 – If You Don’t Get a Response to Your Letter, Follow up
If you haven’t heard back from the financial aid office after a week, send an email to the person you addressed in your letter. Attach your original letter in the email.
Keep in mind that it might take time for the school to get back to you, especially if it’s right before the start of the school year. They may be dealing with hundreds of messages from other students. Keep your email short and to the point.
Example Financial Aid Appeal Follow-Up Letter
Dear Mr. Stevenson,
I am emailing you regarding the financial aid appeal I sent to you on September 30, 2020. I have attached my appeal and relevant documents to this email. Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you.
If you didn’t get as much financial aid as you hoped, all hope is not lost! You can appeal your financial aid by writing a letter. Financial circumstances can drastically change, and many schools are understanding of that. Remember, they want you to come to study at their school and it is in their interest to help you out. As long as you have a good reason for asking for more aid, you have a good chance of the school giving you more.