These are exciting times for you and your family. You have been admitted to the school you wish to attend and you filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), by the required deadlines. Now, all that hard work has paid off, because you have received a financial aid award letter from the school!
But, there is a problem – the types and amount of financial aid funding the school is able to award you are not enough for you to be able to attend. Since you filed the FAFSA, there have been some changes in your family’s abilities to help out financially. For example, a parent has lost a job, huge medical bills have arrived, or worst of all, a parent has died. What do you do? You really want to attend this school, but, as it looks now, you will not be able to afford to go.
Fear not! There is a path that can be followed that might lead to a revised award letter that better reflects your family’s true financial situation. This path is called the “financial aid appeal.” The financial aid appeal process allows the financial aid office to review items not taken into consideration when you filed your FAFSA and, if your appeal is approved, allows the financial aid office to make adjustments to your financial aid.
Possible reasons for appealing your financial aid award include:
- A job loss or salary reduction
- High, unreimbursed medical bills
- Loss of your home due to fire, tornado or other natural disaster
- Death of a wage earner
- Unusual capital gains and other one-time events that inflated your family’s 2012 income
If one of the above or something similar applies to you and your family, you need to write a short, concise letter to the financial aid office outlining your concerns and why you wish to have your aid package reviewed. Be sure to have someone proofread your letter. Poorly written or organized letters may be discarded relatively quickly. To help you get started, we offer a sample financial aid appeal letter for a student whose parent has lost a job.
The financial aid office will review your letter of appeal, and, if it is deemed to have merit, the financial aid office will possibly request further documentation to support the letter. So, be prepared to provide verifiable, third-party documentation of your claims to the financial aid office.
Once the letter and all supporting documentation are received, a review is completed and a decision is made about possible adjustments. The review of your appeal may take several weeks, so be patient. If the financial aid appeal is approved, the financial aid office will send you a revised financial aid award letter indicating the changes that have been made. If the financial aid appeal is denied, a letter from the financial aid office will be sent to you with an explanation as to why the appeal was denied.
Sue Allmon is a financial aid administrator with more than 25 years of experience in helping students find money needed to pay for college.