Chances are, your life looks very different today than it did back in the fall when you filled out your FAFSA.
If you or your family has experienced a change in income due to the coronavirus, you can and should appeal your financial aid award for next fall.
Here's what you need to know.
Death, illness, and income loss are always grounds to appeal your award
The coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic is causing all kinds of life-changing complications for college-bound and current college students. Some of these changes may invalidate portions of the information you provided when you filled out your FAFSA application.
If that's the case for you, you may be able to have your financial aid award re-assessed.
Even under non-pandemic conditions, you can appeal your award if the income you reported on your FAFSA is no longer accurate for any of these reasons:
- If there is a death in your family.
- If someone in your household experiences a serious illness or disability that results in reduced income or increased medical expenses.
- If someone in your household retires, gets laid off, experiences a reduction in hours, is incarcerated, or loses employment income for another non-voluntary reason.
- If your parent or guardian's marital status changes due to divorce or separation.
- If an income stream from a rental property, alimony, or a court settlement is no longer available.
Contact your school right away
If the pandemic has changed your ability to attend or pay for the fall semester, get in touch with your college or university right away.
Remember, colleges are struggling to deal with this crisis on the fly, just like everyone else. They may not be able to offer you concrete information right away, but making them aware of your situation early is to your advantage. If they are able to offer additional financial aid at some point, you want make sure your name is on the list of people to be considered. They may have a limited allotment of funds to distribute.
Remember, colleges want you to attend
Finally, keep in mind that colleges — even non-profits — are still businesses at the end of the day. It's in their best interest to ensure that their fall enrollment numbers are as stable as possible. If your financial situation has changed, they're more likely than ever to find ways to work with you.
If you're still experiencing a tuition gap after your appeal, it may be worth exploring options for private student loans. You can check our picks for the best deals currently being offered by our highly vetted and reputable lending partners.