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If you get a financial aid award that’s less than you hoped — or if your circumstances changed since you first applied— it’s not your last shot to get money for college. But no one is going to hand out more aid if you don’t ask for it.
Your best option in certain cases is to submit a financial aid appeal letter.
Try to appeal your award as soon as possible before the school’s well of aid runs dry.
First, email or call the school’s financial aid office to learn more about its aid award appeals process. Ask whom you should get in touch with and any special requirements the school has.
Here are a few circumstances that warrant writing a letter:
The amount of aid you request depends on the gap you need to fill. If you only need a few thousand dollars more to pay for college, an appeal could be enough. If you have a larger gap — $10,000 or more — consider additional avenues, such as student loans.
If you need money more immediately due to a financial emergency, your school may have available through its own fund or from the CARES Act.
You can mail a letter, deliver in person or send an email, depending on the school’s process. , a free tool developed by multiple colleges and educational advocacy organizations, has financial aid appeal letter templates available.
Your financial aid award appeal letter should include the following:
As you compose the letter, make sure to:
If your appeal isn't successful or still leaves you short of what you need, here are some other options:
Consider other financial sources. Look for that may still be available beyond the college. If you're already taking out federal loans, consider to close the gap. Compare offers from multiple lenders before choosing a loan.
Rethink your college choice. If it’s unlikely you’ll get enough financial aid for every year of college, consider going to a less expensive school. Doing so could save you from a high debt burden you’ll be paying back for many years to come.
Step 1. Contact the school’s financial aid office to find out the appeals process.
Step 2. Find the best person to write the appeal letter to.
Step 3. Determine how much aid to ask for.
Step 4. Gather documents to support your request.
Step 5. Write a financial aid appeal letter that is no more than one page and includes details of why you need more money.
Step 6. Submit your letter, documentation and any forms the school requires.
Step 7. If you get a positive response, congratulations! If you still need additional aid or your request is denied, consider scholarships and loans. Alternatively, consider another school that has a lower price tag or offers more aid.