Mike Brown Updated on August 4, 2017

Okay, so you got financial aid, just...not enough of it.

Or maybe your financial situation has changed--a parent becomes unemployed, or takes a lower paying job, or money intended for college is now needed to pay for health-care--and suddenly your need is greater.

Perhaps aid you've been granted has been withdrawn. Or, you were denied outright.

No need to panic. You always have options. In these situations your first best option is a well-crafted financial aid appeal letter.

Why You Should Appeal

There are any number of reasons why you may find yourself needing to write a financial aid appeal letter. The most likely will probably be attributable to an unexpected change in your personal economic situation. For instance:

  • Unemployment
  • Serious medical situations
  • Divorce

Another situation: the income listed on your FAFSA isn't quite accurate. How can that be? Maybe a good chunk of it will go to reduce debt you're carrying, and can't be put toward college costs.

What if you lose financial aid because you've failed to maintain the requisite grades? You might be able to appeal if you've experienced a dramatic life event, such as:

  • Newly diagnosed ongoing illness
  • Homelessness
  • Difficult pregnancy
  • Death of immediate family member

How You Should Appeal

So what, exactly, is a financial aid appeal letter? Quite simply, it's a request for help. What it is not is a place for you to vent, complain, or make a demand. You need the financial aid office's assistance much more than they need abuse from you! Ultimately, you're requesting more money. This letter is you stating your case to the people who can assist you.

Here are some basic tips that you should apply when creating your letter, regardless of the reason you're writing it:

  • Be sure to address your letter to a specific person in the school's financial aid office. If you don't already have a contact, consult the department listing on the school's website.
  • While you're at the school's website, research guidelines for their appeal process. Are there specific forms they require?
  • In the body of your letter, always address the individual by name: Mr. Jones, Mrs. Smith, etc. You want to establish a personal yet respectful tone. Avoid addressing people solely by their title.
  • Be direct, succinct, and courteous.
  • Reiterate the forms you've submitted to your school, the status of your award, and the reason for your appeal.

What You Should Include

What does a financial aid appeal letter look like? Some formal aspects to keep in mind.

  • For the sake of clarity and readability, don't get fancy with the appearance of your letter. The reliable block letter format will suit you just fine and make for easier reading.
  • Be up front with your reason for writing. Hint: that's not just saying I didn't get enough financial aid. What is your why?
  • Keep your letter to one side of one page.
  • Are you asking for more money from your school or from the Federal government? It's an important distinction, so make sure you are clear on that.
  • Provide documentation, if available, that reinforces your appeal. The more relevant information a financial aid officer has, the more likely you are to get a favorable response. The people responsible for judging your appeal are governed by rules and regulations, so do your homework, craft an informed request, and help them to help you.
  • Always thank the person you're writing for considering your request.

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Sample Letter:


April 10th, 2017

Mrs. Kristen Hopkins
Office of Financial Aid
University College
204 Street Name
City, State  Zip

Dear Mrs. Hopkins,

I am Ben Brown, an incoming freshman, and I'm very much looking forward to attending University College this fall. Thank you for the detailed financial aid package. After my application was accepted, my family has--unfortunately--experienced an extreme setback in our financial situation.

Just a day after receiving my award information, my father lost his job. After 30 years at The Widget Factory he was unexpectedly let go. He is--was--our family's main income provider. My mother remains employed, but she works part-time at a minimum wage retail job. Consequently, we are suddenly unable to provide the additional funds I'll need for outstanding tuition, books, and expenses.

It is my sincere wish to attend college this fall, and that is in jeopardy now. I'm requesting a review of my award with consideration of these new extenuating circumstances. Your help is greatly appreciated, and I thank you for taking the time to review my appeal.

Attached please find confirmation of my father's termination, as well as the required financial aid appeal form from your office. If there is anything else I can provide or any questions I can answer for you, please do not hesitate to call or e-mail me. I will respond promptly.

Sincerely,

Ben Brown
1520 My Street
City, State  Zip
123-456-7890
bbrown@email.com

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