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Never Settle for Less than You Deserve

Many parents look at the financial aid letter as the final say in what their child receives to help fund the cost of college. Few realize that if the financial aid package offered in the award letter isn’t everything you hoped for, you can appeal it.

There is actually a formal process you can use to potentially increase the amount of aid initially offered, as financial aid administrators have the authority to make changes and adjustments using “Professional Judgement.”

Now, let me be clear, college tuition isn’t like negotiating the price of a house. The financial aid officer or administrator wants to see specific reasons or circumstances that justify a change. They are not concerned with your willingness to pay, so you will have to make a case that your circumstances are unavoidable and preventing your child from committing to their school.

When Is It Appropriate to Write an Appeal Letter?

  • Your family’s finances have changed after you submitted your FAFSA/CSS Profile. This might include events like the death or disability of a parent or caregiver, a medical emergency, job loss or reduction of income, divorce or separation of a dependent student’s parents, or significant financial loss beyond your control.


  • There is an error in the information submitted through the FAFSA/CSS Profile, or you believe there is an error in the calculation that may have affected the aid awarded.


  • Your child got a better offer from another school, and you’re asking the school to match.


Tips for Writing a Good Financial Appeal Letter

If your circumstances warrant an appeal, you should submit it as soon as possible. Here are some tips to help you submit a successful appeal:

  1. Email or call the school’s financial aid office to learn more about their appeals process. Ask whom you should get in touch with and if the school has any special requirements. Ideally, you would use this opportunity to find a direct contact to whom you can address the letter and communicate with afterward to follow-up. If you can’t find a direct contact, then address the letter to the financial aid office.


  1. The letter should be written by the student, not the parent.


  1. Begin with who you are and where you are from, how grateful you are to have been accepted, and how excited you are to attend.


  1. Be direct about the purpose of the letter: financial aid. For example, I am contacting you to request a review of changes to my family’s financials in order to be considered for additional financial aid.


  1. Briefly talk about why the school is a great fit for you using specific examples related to what you plan to study, activities you intend to participate in, or how the school will help prepare you for the career of your choice.


  1. Include any details about yourself that show you are a hardworking student and have succeeded in the past. The letter also has a better chance of success if you have a talent (academic, athletic, musical, etc.) the college can use to fill its enrollment needs.


  1. Give short, concise details of your specific financial situation even if you gave these details in your original application. The letter should clearly state the reasons for the appeal and include specific numbers related to any financial changes or offers from other schools, so when the FAA does the math, they see what you see. Keep your supporting documents together and ready to submit in case they request them after reviewing the letter.


  1. Keep it short and to the point. Once you are done, close respectfully and take the time to sign the letter, giving it a nice personal touch.


Next Steps

Once the letter and any supporting documents requested are received, the financial administrator reviews your info and comes to a decision about possible adjustments. If the appeal is approved, the financial aid office will send you a revised financial aid award letter indicating what changes have been made. If the appeal is denied, you will be notified with an explanation of why the appeal was denied.

If you need help with the structure and format you can download my template to use as a reference: Financial Aid Appeal Template.

Submitting an appeal does not guarantee additional funding. Therefore, it is important to make sure you submit an appeal that will have the highest probability of success.

As a CCFS® (Certified College Funding Specialist), I can review your financial aid letters for errors and help you submit an appeal to make sure you are getting the aid you are eligible for. The more your student gets in scholarships & grants the lower the out of pocket costs for college will be, leaving more money in savings or lowering your need for loans.

Click to Schedule a free zoom call with me to answer all your college funding questions. With just one phone call, you may be able to save your family considerable money on college expenses.


Mario Carannante, CFBS, CCFS









Related Reading

College Decision Time Is Near – Are You and Your Student Prepared?

Don’t Be Fooled by Your Financial Letters

College Financial Aid – Know the Rules!

What Every College Financial Aid Officer Wants You to Ask

The FAFSA Verification Process and the Financial Award Letter

Understanding Your Student Aid Report (SAR)

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