It’s a question that seems to come up a lot this time of year: Can you appeal a financial aid award letter? The answer is yes, however it’s not a cut and dry process that differs among the schools on your child’s list. Here are a few tips to share that shed some light on the appeals process:
Let your circumstances speak for themselves: Those that often see the most success in the appeal process are those that are actually clarifying a change in circumstances. Makes sense, right? Schools are basing your financial aid package off of your families’ finances from two years prior due to the way that the FAFSA and CSS Profile work. Therefore, if there has been a change to your family’s finances since that date (death of a parent, large scale decrease in income) it’s important that you file an appeal letter to update the school on your current scenario.
Let your child do the talking – I’m sure you can imagine the amount of angry phone calls and emails that financial aid counselors receive from parents to get their child a discount. Don’t be another one of them! A lot of the success that we see comes from students who reach out and express their true desire to attend a school that may be on the outside of what their family can afford financially. After all, your child will be the one calling this school their home for the next four years.
Be honest and keep it short and sweet – When your child contacts the financial aid office, it won’t be the first appeal that the school on their list will receive. For this reason, it’s important to make the appeal personal to your child’s situation so that it is memorable to the individual that is reading it. Supporting documentation and exact numbers are helpful: (Ex. Jimmy’s Mom recently took a lower paying job with $8,000 less in income each month than what was documented previously. This is a significant change to Jimmy’s financial circumstances). In addition, some financial aid officers note that a few short paragraphs may be better than a longer document. This makes sense given the number of essays that many schools are going through in a test optional environment.
Be realistic – It’s probably not in your best interest to submit a financial aid appeal under the assumption that you’re going to come out receiving additional aid. Even if the perfect appeal call/letter is submitted, the odds that you will receive a revised financial aid package are still relatively low. For this reason, it’s important to remember that additional aid is more of icing on top rather than the cake itself.
Don’t let a negative response change your original gameplan – Let’s say for example that the school on your child’s list does not respond to your appeal for additional aid with a revised financial aid package. It’s important to remember why you were appealing in the first place. If the original goal was to turn a school outside of what you could afford into something within your range financially, it’s important to stick with an affordable option. Taking on more student loans than your family can afford most often results in negative consequences post-graduation.
For questions on how an appeal may impact your situation, feel free to reach out. I’m here to help!
All the best,
Andrew Holmes, Certified College Planning Specialist™
Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) is a Registered Investment Advisor. Financial Planning Solutions, LLC (FPS) provides this blog for informational and educational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be considered investment, tax, or legal advice. FPS only renders personalized advice to each client. Information herein includes opinions and source information that is believed to be reliable. However, such information may not be independently verified by FPS. Please see important disclosures link at the bottom of this page.