How to Write a Successful Financial Aid Appeal Letter

Did you receive less financial aid than you needed? Secure more with a financial aid appeal letter.

TCM Staff

20th February 2022

When applying for financial aid, we may have a goal for the amount we hope to achieve. If you receive less than your goal, it’s easy to feel disheartened and stressed out. How will you pay for tuition with $20,000 missing from your anticipated financial aid package?

Not all hope is lost. You can try to secure more funding by learning how to write a financial aid appeal letter.

Today we’ll tell you about everything you need to include in your financial aid appeal letter to improve your chances of securing more aid. Then, we’ll share a financial aid appeal letter sample to inspire your first draft.

Circumstances that Warrant Financial Aid Appeal

The truth is, your financial aid appeal won’t be granted under just any circumstance. You must have experienced a change in circumstances that deviated from those outlined in your original FAFSA significantly enough to impact your ability to pay for school. Specifically, these are some circumstances that warrant writing a financial aid appeal letter:

  • Change in financial circumstance for you or your parents since you submitted your FAFSA
  • Another school offered more aid and you’re requesting that the college match
  • FAFSA error that resulted in receiving less financial aid

How to Write a College Financial Aid Appeal Letter

Before you get writing, keep these considerations in mind as you envision what you’ll write:

Gather Evidence: Your word is only as powerful as your ability to prove it. Gather any evidence — past FAFSA applications, letters from other schools, correspondence — and include it with your letter before you submit. 

Proper Etiquette: Your letter should include polite addresses and a tone of gratitude. Even if you feel that the school made an error, don’t let any resentment come through in your letter. 

Be Personal: Don’t follow a template. You risk sounding too robotic and a school may assume that you’re sending this letter without genuinely meaning it. Be honest and use your own voice, not someone else’s, when you write. Additionally, resist the urge to have someone else write the letter entirely. 

 

Here are a few things you want to include in your financial aid appeal letter:

Dollar Amount: Write down a specific, dollar amount that you need to attend college. Include costs of tuition, travel, supplies, and anything else you might need.

Clear Reasoning: Make sure your reasons for writing the letter are clearly stated somewhere close to the top. 

Address to Real Person: Find the name of a financial aid office contact instead of writing a generic address like “To Whom It May Concern.”

Match Request: Sometimes, people write financial aid appeal letters when they receive more aid from one school than another. If this is the case, clearly document that and include a dollar amount that you’d like them to match. 

Brevity: Keep your letter under one page, if possible.

 

Sample Financial Aid Appeal Letter

Need help visualizing your letter? Check out our sample to get some ideas!

 

September 8th, 2021

Mr. John Jenkins

Office of Financial Aid

University of Chicago

5801 S Ellis Ave

Chicago, Illinois

60637

 

Dear Mr. Jenkins,

I’m (Your first and last name), about to enroll in undergraduate education. I’m very much interested in attending (Name of University/College) this fall. I’m grateful for your detailed financial aid package. However, I’m writing to request a revision to the financial aid amount from ($ Original financial aid awarded) to ($ New financial aid amount desired). Unfortunately, my family unexpectedly experienced a huge financial crisis since I originally sent my FAFSA.

Just a day after submitting my aid information, my father suddenly lost his job. He is our family’s sole income provider. My mother works as a part-timer with a much more modest wage. Given this new circumstance, we’re unable to afford the cost of attendance with the current financial aid awarded. Here are the expenses we need to cover; as you can see, they greatly exceed our financial capabilities, even with the financial aid awarded:

  • Tuition (cost)
  • Room and Board (cost)
  • Textbooks (cost) 

 

If you’re able, I’d appreciate a review of my FAFSA with this change of circumstance. I’m hoping that you’d be able to award a revised financial aid amount of (New financial aid amount).

For your ease of reference, I’ve attached proof of my father’s termination. If you could advise me on the next steps or anything else you’d need to complete my appeal, I’ll await your instruction. 

Please do not hesitate to contact me through email or phone should you require any additional information.

Thank you again for considering my financial aid appeal.

 

Sincerely,

(Your first and last name)

(Mailing address)

(Contact phone and email)

What Can You Do If Your Financial Aid Appeal Letter is Unsuccessful?

If you’re unsuccessful, you won’t receive the funds you’ve requested. At this point, you may consider other funding sources like private student loans or scholarships. Or, you might consider attending a different college that may have offered you more aid.  

Tips to Improve Your Chance for Acceptance of Your Appeal Letter for College Financial Aid

Hopefully, your circumstances will be enough to convince the financial aid office to offer you a more comprehensive aid package. However, you might improve your chances with these tips:

  • Accessibility: Make sure your language is clear and avoid using jargon or overly fancy language. Keep your letter as concise and simple as possible while still including all relevant information. 
  • Readability: Use a generic font in a size large enough to read easily. Arial, Times New Roman, and Calibri at a minimum of 12 pt font are all good options. 
  • Documentation: Include as much documentation as possible. If one of your parents lost their job, include a termination letter and bank statements, for example. 
  • Courtesy: Always maintain a tone of gratitude and politeness throughout your letter. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    1. What Should I Write in My Financial Aid Appeal Letter? 

Your letter should include details about why you require more financial aid and supporting documentation. If you received a better offer from another school, you should include that as well. Most importantly, include a dollar amount that you wish to achieve in aid. 

    2. How Do I Appeal My Financial Aid Award?

Your first step is to find the right contact in the school’s financial aid office. Then, you can write a financial aid appeal letter and submit it to the office. 

    3. What Is the 150 Rule for Financial Aid?

The 150 rule means that if you try to complete 150% of your credit hours, you won’t be eligible for financial aid. It may be tempting to try to finish your program faster, to limit your need for financial aid. Whatever you do, keep your workload under 150%, or you’ll risk losing your aid. 

    4. Can You Appeal Losing Financial Aid?

No. If you’re unsuccessful in your request, it may be time to consider alternative funding options. 

    5. Will I Lose Financial Aid if I Fail a Semester?

It depends on the college. You should ask your college’s financial aid office about their policy for failed semesters. Usually, one failed course won’t affect your financial aid; however, an entire semester might be more severe.

Conclusion

Now that you know how to write an appeal letter for college financial aid, it’s time to put your knowledge into practice. Draft early to give yourself time to revise as necessary, and send it off. Do the best you can to outline your situation as succinctly as possible. 
Looking to secure more funds for college? Consider applying for scholarships. Your first step? Knowing how to write a solid cover letter for your application. Check out our article to guide you on writing an effective scholarship cover letter.

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