It’s never easy asking for money, whether you’re asking your parents, a bank or the government. When it comes to financing your education, though, you’ll probably have to ask many different sources. The way you ask is as important as who you ask. When you write a letter requesting financial aid, make sure it’s a good one. If you do it well, this piece of writing may be more important than any college essay you submit.
Student financial aid should not put you in the lap of luxury. Financial aid ensures that you can meet your basic needs -- food, clothing, shelter and tuition -- while you pursue higher education. Student financial aid committees don’t want to finance you driving a Ferrari, shopping for a new wardrobe or basking in the sun while being handfed grapes. Make sure that you think carefully about what your financial needs are, and distinguish them from your wants. If you’re ever required to pay back the financial aid, you may be very grateful that you got less rather than more.
Merit means different things to different people, and to different student financial aid committees. Some committees will want you to prove that you’re at the top of your class while others will want you only to prove that you have enrolled in a program. Figure out what a financial aid committee expects and, if you can meet those expectations, prove it. Give them evidence that you can, at bare minimum, enter a program and excel in it.
Many student loan and bursary programs help people finance their education only if they can’t do it on their own or with the help of their parents. To be eligible for those programs, you’ll probably have to prove, or at least state clearly, that you can’t do so without the support of those programs. Make sure that you provide evidence that you don’t just want this money to live more comfortably. Show that your education depends on it.
While it’s important to demonstrate the fact that you need financial assistance to further your education, there’s a fine line between demonstrating need and begging. You are not entitled to these funds simply because you want them, and unless the student aid application requests a personal statement, making an emotional plea for the money probably won’t get you anywhere. It may even set you back a great deal. Volunteer the information that the committee requests -- nothing less, but nothing more.
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