Is Financial Aid Negotiable?

Yes, financial aid is 100% negotiable! 

If your financial situation has changed since you filed the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), you can appeal your award letter if the changes occurred due to special circumstances.

If you’re a freshman in college, you’ll probably receive your financial aid package along with your acceptance letter or you might get it a few weeks after. On the other hand, if you have already attended the college,  you will probably receive your package around May before the next school year. For instance, you will receive your financial aid award for the 2020-2021 school year in May 2019. Let it be known that the actual date when you will receive your financial aid package is determined by your school.  

Be on the lookout for sketchy things on your financial aid award letter. If you need more information on how to read your financial aid award, check out this article.

How does it work?

Step 1: 

Gather all your information and apply for financial aid by filling out the FAFSA® application and signing it. Want to know if you qualify? Click here.

Step 2:

Your school will receive your FAFSA® application or Student Aid Report (SAR),  and then they will send you, your financial aid award letter within two weeks. Keep in mind, that the only way to receive your award letter in two weeks is by successfully signing and submit your FAFSA® on time. If your application is incomplete or contains any discrepancies the process will get delayed. The letter will include numerous information such as the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), aid eligibility estimates among other things. 

If it’s been more than two weeks and you haven’t heard from your school, you should give them a call. Reach out to your school’s financial aid office to learn more about the status of a financial aid package.

Step 3:

Accept and/or appeal your financial aid award. Appealing your award letter can lead you to receive more money for school. In other words, appeal letters may be the factor that determines whether or not you’ll be able to afford the cost of college attendance. 


You can negotiate your financial aid award if your financial situation changed based on these common special circumstances:

  • Medical bills
  • Natural disaster
  • Death of parent or guardian
  • Loss of income
  • You received multiple financial aid offers
  • There are multiple college students in your household
  • Your grades and community involvement is exceptional

Note: Special circumstances are not limited to this list. Any extraordinary change that happened after you filed your FAFSA®, should be mentioned in your letter. Who knows? Maybe you will qualify for even more aid because of it. 

To appeal your award letter, contact your school’s financial aid office. They will be able to provide you with specific instructions on how to properly submit an appeal letter. In the meantime, check our aid appeal guide

It doesn’t hurt to ask.

Appealing your financial aid award with proof of financial changes in your income won’t negatively affect the amount of aid you may qualify for whatsoever. So go ahead and take that extra step. 

It’s important to continuously follow up with the financial aid office at your school once you have submitted your appeal letter. By doing this, you can double-check that the department has all the required supporting documents. It will also allow you to know the exact status of your appeal letter.