It can be frustrating to go through the FAFSA® process only to get your financial aid award letter and find out it’s not enough to cover what you need for school.
If you’ve found yourself in this situation, and you’re experiencing financial hardships or a major life event, there may be options. You can consider appealing your financial aid offer to get more aid from your college or university.
With that in mind, let’s walk through the aid appeal process step-by-step.
A Step by Step Guide to Aid Appeal
This guide will help you to understand exactly how the aid appeal process works. Here are the steps you need to take to file.
Click the links for instructions on how to complete each step:
- How to know if you can negotiate your aid
- Writing your Aid Appeal Letter
- Submitting your Aid Appeal Letter
- What not to do in the Aid Appeal process
- Getting your Aid Appeal decision
Keep in mind that each school has its own process, potential forms, and due dates for aid appeal. Please contact your financial aid office to help you understand what their process is.
The checklist below highlights the situations that typically merit aid appeals. Take a look through and check those that apply to your current situation.
- Merit: GPA of 3.5 or higher, National Honor Society or Honor Roll, community involvement, clubs, sports, awards, extracurricular activities. These are good to mention regardless of category as they show what a great asset the student will be to the university.
- Multiple Offers: If the student has been accepted into several colleges and been granted a large sum of financial aid from another school, let your first choice school know and see if they match the offer or be able to increase their offer based on this information.
- Multiple College Students: If a household has more than one college student
- Loss of Income: If a parent or guardian has recently had their employment terminated, hours greatly reduced, been forced to take a lesser paying job, or had to leave their job due to illness or injury.
- Death of Parent or Guardian: If a parent or guardian has passed away your EFC will be affected due to the loss of income and the possibly high costs of funeral expenses.
- Medical Bills: If the student or someone in their immediate family (parent, guardian, sibling) has fallen ill or been injured and accrued medical bills totaling $10,000 or higher
- Natural Disaster: If the student and their family have been the victim of a natural disaster and suffered the loss of home, vehicle or livelihood.
Unfortunately, if you don’t meet one of these qualifying factors, it’s likely that you won’t qualify for aid appeal. However, if you’ve recently lost financial aid due to poor academic performance (Satisfactory Academic Progress), you can petition to get it back by SAP Appeal.
An aid appeal is a letter submitted to the financial aid office at your chosen college or university explaining why you may qualify for additional financial aid beyond what was offered to you as part of your initial financial aid award.
This letter is your chance to tell your story and explain how receiving more aid will assist you in successfully completing your college education. As we mentioned before, there are many reasons why you might need aid, and this is your opportunity to let your financial aid office know what those reasons are.
Your aid award letter should consist of a few key elements:
- An explaination for why you believe you quailfy for more aid (experienced a loss of income, medical emergency, two aid offers)
- Why you want to attend the school and how it will help you meet your goals
- How the additional aid appeal will help you complete your education
- Support documents to back-up your explaination (another aid offer, medical bills, unemployment pay stubs)
Now that your aid appeal letter is complete, it’s time to submit it. These are a few simple steps and things to be aware of ahead of sending the letter to your financial aid office.
- Be sure to submit your appeal as soon as possible or before your schools deadline for aid appeals
- Call your Financial Aid Office or Financial Advisor and request the official email address letters are submitted through
- Attach all additional documents to the letter that will help prove your case i.e. transcripts, letters of recommendation, proof of circumstances (termination paperwork, offer letters from other colleges, medical bills, insurance documents, etc)
- Review your the final draft of your letter for spelling errors or any additional issues
- After you submit your letter, keep an eye out for an email or a message on your student portal
- If you haven’t heard anything in 2-3 weeks, call the Financial Aid Office and ask for an update
Not receiving enough money for financial aid can be frustrating, but don’t let your emotions tempt you to go about your request the wrong way.
Here are a few common missteps you want to avoid during the aid appeal process.
- Don’t lie! They will ask for proof of circumstances
- Don’t send your letter to a random email address you find on the website. Make sure you’re communicating with the Financial Aid Office and sending your letter to the correct address
- Don’t make your letter longer than one page, keep it concise and easy to read
Follow-up is essential during the aid appeal process. The beginning of the academic year is a busy time for colleges and universities. Be sure you stay in touch with your financial aid office or financial advisor regarding the status of your appeal.
Double-check that they have all supporting documents or proof of circumstances after you’ve submitted your information. If they have everything they need, it will speed up the appeal decision.
Unfortunately, if you are not granted more aid, submitting a second appeal will not change the decision. The only reason a second appeal will be considered is if circumstances have changed.
You are your own biggest advocate. If you meet the above qualifications it’s worth reaching out to see what more you can get to make your education more accessible. Ask questions along the way and be sure to highlight some of your achievements. Good luck!