When the financial aid offer you receive from your intended university doesn’t award you the amount you expected, you can appeal the university’s decision in most instances by filling out an appeals application and a letter outlining your reasons and evidence. Knowing how to structure this letter, from its opening to its conclusion, can help you construct a convincing presentation as to why you deserve more financial aid.
Directly Address the Financial Aid Representative
Following a formal letter format, you should begin your letter with the date followed by the name and address of a specific individual within your university’s financial aid office. This increases the chance that someone will read your letter more quickly and it also gives you a direct contact within the financial aid department with whom you can follow up.
First Body Paragraph
Your letter’s first body paragraph explains why your current aid is inadequate. For example, you might need additional funding because of a significant change in your personal funding, such as a lost job. Point out if there was a miscalculation on your Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) or if you’ve lost funding due to an unsatisfactory grade point average or credit total. Some universities allow you to appeal if another school of equal caliber has offered you a better financial aid package. You can support these requests by including copies of your financial aid documentation, such as tax returns or W-2 forms, or any new evidence that supports your request.
Second Body Paragraph
In your subsequent paragraph you can propose how you’d like your aid package amended. Include proposed increases in funding from the university or inquire into potential reduced tuition or tuition waivers, which are offered by some universities for those students who demonstrate financial need. You can also inquire about work-study positions, which allow you to pay off part of your tuition debts instead of taking on additional loans.
You can close your letter with a short summary of your previously laid out request along with your promise to follow up within a certain amount of time. Once you’ve drafted your letter, review it not only for grammatical or spelling errors but also to ensure you’ve outlined your case clearly and logically and have maintained a persuasive, yet polite, tone. You can also include your current contact information to ensure that the aid officer to whom you direct your letter can reach out to you as soon as possible.
Send your appeal letter as soon as possible in case there is a wait list for aid or work-study positions. You should have your name as close to the top as possible. While you wait for a response, you can continue to explore ways to reduce your college costs. You can, for example, review your FAFSA to be doubly sure that no mistakes or miscalculations were made. You can also research scholarship opportunities and assess other ways to reduce expenses, such as choosing to live in a campus dormitory versus finding your own living space, enrolling in a meal plan to cut back on food costs, or seeking out other campus jobs.
- Clemson University: Financial Aid Appeals
- Stanford University Financial Aid: Requesting Additional Aid
- Boston University Financial Assistance: Appeal for Reconsideration
- Purdue University Online Writing Lab: Writing the Basic Business Letter
- Cornell University: Appealing Your Aid Decision
- University of California Berkeley: Work-Study
- Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images