How to Appeal Your Financial Aid Award

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!

Sample Financial Aid Award Appeal LetterBut, 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.

Sue Allmon, Financial Aid Administrator, Western Governors UniversityOnce 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.

Related posts:

When and How to Appeal Your 2014-15 Financial Aid Award

Appealing a College Financial Aid Award - What You Can Do, What you Can Expect

Make Sure You Understand Your Financial Aid Award

Take an Inventory of Your Financial Aid Offer







Comments for How to Appeal Your Financial Aid Award

Name: Dorothy Carmack
Time: Saturday, August 30, 2014

How to appeal a letter for financial aid because my GPA had lower over a decade ago.

Dorothy Carmack

Name: Patricia Scherschel, CollegeUp Blog Administrator
Time: Thursday, September 4, 2014

Dorothy Carmack:

In response to the comment/query you posted on August 30, 2014:

According to financial aid expert and blogger Sue Allmon, you should contact the school to find out how its appeal process works. Most schools post information about their process on their website, but if that information is not available there, then contact the school directly. Each school creates its own appeals process, but that process must be in keeping with federal guidelines. The school must establish appeal procedures for filing an appeal and rules governing acceptable documentation.

Name: Greg Omer
Time: Thursday, July 2, 2015

My new wife and I rolled a std IRA into a Roth and that caused an artificial inflation of our income which is preventing her daughter from receiving grants she needs to afford college. Is there an appeal process or precedent pertaining to a circumstance such as this?

Name: Patricia Scherschel, CollegeUp Blog Administrator
Time: Friday, July 3, 2015

Greg Omer:

In response to the comment/query you posted on July 2, 2015:

Yes, there is an appeals process, and, yes, financial aid offices are allowed to review cases when certain financial transactions result in an increase in a student’s or family’s taxable income but the transactions do not actually increase the amount of income that would be available to help pay for college. This flexibility is known as “professional judgment” and each school defines its own policies regarding which types of adjustments they will or won’t make.

Please contact your daughter’s school to find out how to submit an appeal for professional judgment.

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