Module 7: Financial Aid Appeals

Financial Aid Appeals

Sometimes you may receive more merit scholarships from one school and less from your dream school. Or, after you’ve filled out your FAFSA form, there may have been a change in your family’s finances resulting in a financial hardship.

Changes in your family’s finances include:

  • A parent lost a job (or has a decrease in salary)
  • Huge recent medical bills
  • The death of a parent
  • Divorce
  • Recently began caring for an elderly parent
  • The loss of your home due to natural causes like a fire or tornado
  • Or one time/ unusual capital gains (like selling stocks or selling a house and receiving the equity) that inflated your family’s income

This is when you would file a financial aid appeal letter to help increase the amount of aid that the school is giving your family.

Note: You want more aid in the form of grants and scholarships, which is money that does NOT have to be paid back. And NOT Loans- money that does have to be paid back.

**You want to appeal your financial aid award by contacting the financial aid office as soon as possible after you receive your financial aid award letter and before you decide to accept the offer to attend the college. This is because aid is given on a first-come, first-serve basis.

This process can take several weeks and may require you to submit additional documents to support your claims.


Steps for Appealing a Financial Aid Award

  1. Call the financial aid office (have the child call with you standing close by or on the phone as well).  You can explain that your child has been accepted and are interested in enrolling in the college but are concerned about your ability to afford the college based on the financial aid offer that you received. You are concerned with excessive loan debt or unmet need. (Unmet need is what the college deems that the parents can afford to pay out of pocket each year)
  2. Then the financial aid officer should tell  you the specific procedure to request additional funds. Make sure that you include all of the information that they ask for. Anything submitted that’s incomplete or inaccurate can prolong the process.
  3. Typically, they’ll ask you to submit a letter to the financial aid office.
  4. Follow up after 3 days of submitting the letter to make sure that the correct person has received it and to make sure that no additional documents are required.


Sample Financial Aid Appeal Letters:

Financial Aid Appeal Letter to Increase Merit Aid

Financial Aid Appeal Letter Example for A Financial Hardship