Once your college financial aid application has been processed, you will receive an award letter detailing how much assistance you qualify to receive. The award is based on the expected cost of education for the academic year and your expected family contribution (EFC), which is based on the state of your finances (and that of your parents if you are a dependent student) at the time you submitted your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). If your circumstances have changed since the time your FAFSA was filed and you need to request more assistance, you can submit an appeal letter requesting additional funds.
Template for a Financial Aid Appeal Letter
If you need to write an appeal letter, you may find it beneficial to use the sample provided here as a starting point. You will need to fill in the letter with information specific to your situation, but the basic format of this example is a good place to begin. To access the template, simply click the document's image. The sample letter will open as a separate PDF document that you can customize to suit your purposes. Click anywhere in the letter to edit using your keyboard and use the 'Save' and 'Print' commands from the file menu when the necessary adjustments have been made.
Tips for Making a Request for Additional Financial Aid
The fact that you submit an appeal letter does not necessarily mean that your request will be approved. You will need to be able to make a convincing case in your letter, clearly demonstrating that your situation has changed drastically since your FAFSA was submitted - and to what extent. If it is even possible for the school to entertain your request, you will likely be required to submit proof to back up the reasons you give for the changes in your circumstances.
To increase your chances of being considered for approval, submit your letter as soon as you become aware of the need to ask for additional funding. Before sending the letter in, call the school's financial aid office and verify to whom who the letter should be addressed and the best way to submit your request (i.e., by mail, in person, via email, etc.). This will ensure that your request is processed as quickly as possible.
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:
- Serious medical situations
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
- 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.
April 10th, 2017
Mrs. Kristen Hopkins
Office of Financial Aid
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.
1520 My Street
City, State Zip