Can I Ask for More Financial Aid?

Opening your college acceptance letter is an exhilarating moment, but the financial award offered may leave you feeling let down. Not aligning with your expectations or needs, you may ask yourself if there is any wiggle room in that aid offer. The answer is maybe. Below is a quick guide to effectively appealing your college financial award letter.

Step One: Understand the Aid Award Letter

Before appealing your financial aid award, it’s crucial to understand what is included in the offer. Pay close attention to the types of aid offered, including grants and scholarships (which don’t need to be paid back), loans (which do need to be paid back and accrue interest), and work-study programs (which allow you to work on campus and receive a paycheck). Additionally, take note of any conditions or requirements attached to each award.

Step Two: Identify Valid Reasons for Appealing the Award

College financial aid offices strive to prepare the best financial aid packages they can for students. We do not recommend asking for more money unless you have a valid reason to do so. Valid reasons for appeal typically include:
• Significant changes in financial circumstances
• Competing offers from other institutions
• Discrepancies in the information provided
• Special circumstances not adequately addressed in the initial application

Step Three: Gather Documentation

Whatever your valid reason for asking for more financial aid, you need to gather relevant documentation to support your request. This may include recent tax returns, documentation of special circumstances (such as medical expenses or job loss), other institutions’ awards that offer more funds and provide a lower net cost of attendance, and any additional relevant financial information not previously provided.

Step Four: Compose a Persuasive Letter Outlining Your Request

Craft a well-written appeal letter stating your reasons for requesting a review of your financial aid award. Be concise, polite, and respectful in your tone. Clearly explain the circumstances prompting your appeal and provide any relevant documentation to support your claims. Emphasize your commitment to attending the institution if awarded additional financial aid. This is very important! Why would you submit an appeal to a school you would rather not attend. That would be disrespectful and a waste of time.

Step Five: Submit Your Appeal Promptly

Every college sets its own deadlines for appeals making timing crucial. By submitting your appeal as soon as possible after receiving your initial award letter, you ensure ample time for review and consideration by the financial aid office.

Step Six : Follow Up

After submitting your request for additional funds, follow up with the financial aid office to confirm receipt of your appeal letter and any accompanying documentation. Be proactive in providing any additional information requested by the college to support your appeal.

Step Seven: Consider Alternative Financial Aid Options

Appealing your financial award letter is one avenue for potentially securing additional aid, but there are others to explore. Consider applying for external scholarships, alternative loan options, or part-time employment to help you cover expenses. While we have seen successful financial aid award appeals, we’ve also witnessed request denials and you need to have a Plan B.

If your financial aid award letter is leaving you feeling let down, carefully consider whether asking for more funds makes sense. The decision to appeal requires careful consideration, documentation, and effective communication. We hope these steps help you understand the process.

Looking for help with the college search and application process? We help students and families through the entire college planning journey – from search, applications and essays to interview prep, financial aid consultation and final school selection.

Contact us at info@signaturecollegecounseling.com or by phone, 845.551.6946. We work with students through Zoom, over the phone and by email.