How to Write a Successful Financial Aid Appeal Letter

For some students, getting financial aid is the only chance of going to college. However, the statistics show that it’s not as easy as it might seem. According to the data provided by the U.S. Department of Education, 20% of all undergraduate students somehow failed to fill out the FAFSA in 2011-12.

But don’t let their example scare you. Once you read this article, you’ll learn what to focus on while writing your financial aid appeal letter and how to succeed in it.

But first, let’s define why you should appeal your financial aid in the first place.

Why should you appeal for financial aid?

In most cases, students write a financial aid appeal letter because their personal economic situation changes unexpectedly. This could happen when parents get a divorce, when one of the parents loses their job or when serious medical situations happen in the family.

Sometimes it’s also because students experience some kind of a dramatic life event (like an illness, a death of an immediate family member, homelessness, and so on). Sometimes it happens because students use a chunk of their existing income to reduce a certain debt (their or their family’s). Sometimes they also fail to maintain grades required to continue receiving their existing financial aid. Sometimes the existing financial aid itself isn’t enough to pay for college.

It seems like there are a lot of situations in which you can apply, doesn’t it? If you find yourself in any of them, you could consider appealing your financial aid. And here’s what you should keep in mind while doing so.

What needs to be included in the financial aid appeal letter?

There are some things you should remember to make your financial aid appeal letter look right and to increase your chances of getting a positive response.

  1. Address it to a specific person who works in the financial aid office of your school or college. There’s a chance you already know the name of that person, but if not, check the website and look for them in the department listing. Address that person by their name to make this more personal.
  2. Look for additional guidelines for the appeal process, which should be also found on the website. There might not be any – but there might be some specific ones as well.
  3. Clearly state why you need financial aid.
  4. Specify whether you want to receive more money from the Federal government or from your school or college.
  5. If you already submitted a similar form to your school or college, repeat it in this letter as well.
  6. If you ask for money because of a certain reason, do your best to provide some documentation that backs this reason up. The more arguments you have, the better.

And, of course, don’t forget to be polite. Always thank the person who you’re addressing the letter to. After all, they’re going to spend time reading and considering your appeal letter, so it’s better to make a good impression.

Some more tips to consider

Unlike the tips mentioned above, these aren’t obligatory. If you cannot follow them, that’s okay. But if you can, please do so – this might increase your chances of getting a positive response.

1. Try not to make it too long.

Of course, it depends on the circumstances. It isn’t always possible to write a proper financial aid appeal backed up by arguments and documentation while keeping it short. However, if you can, try making your letter no longer than one page, so it is easier to read and process.

2. Try to deliver the letter personally.

This is understandable: a personal approach always works better. However, this too isn’t always possible. If you are able to do that, definitely seize the opportunity. But if you aren’t sure you can do it, better clarify this before trying to deliver the letter yourself. Otherwise, you might risk causing some trouble.

And remember: there’s nothing wrong with asking for more financial aid. As long as you do it right and provide enough evidence that you need it, everything will be fine.

Do you find these tips helpful? Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

Charles Ebert is a career mentor, essay writer, motivational speaker & human resources consultant with over 10 years of experience in the HR sector. Apart from career mentoring, he loves photography, and football. Find him on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Google+.


One Comment on “How to Write a Successful Financial Aid Appeal Letter

  1. Pingback: How to Write a Successful Financial Aid Appeal Letter | Hispanic EdD Weblog

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