How to Write a Successful Financial Aid Appeal Letter for College
The BIG Ideas:
- Writing a financial support letter appeal letter for college can be a smart move if your financial circumstances have changed and you need help affording college.
- Schools vary on how they handle appeals letters so be sure to understand what they consider a change of circumstance.
- Read your financial aid award letter carefully before writing your letter of academic appeal.
You know it, college is expensive. That was the whole point of completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). It’s used by schools to determine your eligibility for college financial aid, such as grants and needs-based scholarships, which can make college a whole lot more affordable.
But in between the time you received that financial aid award letter and completed your FAFSA, your life and financial circumstances may have changed. For example, your household may have been impacted by a job loss or some other circumstance that makes you eligible to receive more aid. The only way to get that additional aid is to ask for it, which you can do by writing an appeal letter for college financial aid.
When Can You Write a Letter of Financial Support?
There are many reasons to write a letter of financial support, including changes in financial or household circumstances, such as unemployment, a medical emergency, a new addition to the family, or even another student in the family making the decision to attend school. You could also write one because you receive more aid from one school and want another to match that offer. A little competition never hurt anyone.
How to Write an Appeal Letter for College Financial Aid
Just as every college is unique, so too, is the way they handle appeals or the way the letters of appeal should be written. There are, however, some important guidelines to keep in mind when writing yours:
- Do your homework – Contacting the financial aid office will help you learn what forms you might need and what process to follow. Again, each school may have different requirements, so make sure you understand them before crafting your letter. Also ask the school about deadlines for sending in letters of appeal, since there’s no standard deadline for every school.
- State your case clearly and concisely – Indicate the specific amount you’re asking for and how your financial circumstances have changed. Your letter should also include the following:
- Your full name, mailing address, email address, and phone number
- The date you’re writing the letter
- The name and full address of the person you’re sending the letter to (Note: It’s always better to address it to a specific person at the financial aid office instead of leaving it vague.)
- Include documentation for proof – Your letter of financial aid appeal should also include supporting documentation, such as an unemployment receipt or termination letters from an employer. Make sure you have updated tax returns and other tax-related documentation is important too.
- Be courteous at all times – Staff at the financial aid office deal with requests like yours all the time, so be patient. Always treat office staff with respect. You may need to be persistent as the staff is busy dealing with other families, so follow up on emails with a phone call and make sure to follow their directions.
- Be ready for “no” – It’s good to ask. Not all requests will be granted. Think through what your response will be if your request is not granted. Will you go to the less expensive school? Will you have to borrow more than you wanted to pay the bill? Consider all outcomes in advance to avoid being disappointed.
Sample Academic Appeal Letter Outline
March 19, 2023
Office of Financial Aid
University of Example
City, State, Zip
Dear Ms. Johnson,
[Paragraph 1: Introduce yourself, thank Ms. Johnson for the financial aid assistance already given, and explain in one sentence why you’re seeking an appeal]
[Paragraph 2: Explain the circumstances behind why you need the extra financial aid assistance.]
[Paragraph 3: Describe your desire to attend the college and how the extra financial assistance would be paramount in letting you do so.]
[Paragraph 4: Mention any documentation that you may have attached. Thank Mrs. Johnson for her time reviewing your letter and documentation. Mention where you can be contacted for more information or any questions]
City, State, Zip
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