Should You Appeal Your Financial Aid Award?
Whether or not to appeal financial aid award offers is a question many students face this time of year. Maybe the award offer was not as high as you or your student anticipated, or perhaps your circumstances have changed since you filed your application due to COVID-19. If you are facing a major change like a loss of parental employment, reduction of income or sudden, high medical expenses, it might be worth appealing.
COVID-19 has put pressure on universities across the country regarding major topics like cost of admissions, online vs. in person teaching, and financial aid qualifications and limits. Each university is handling COVID-19 differently, and some still haven’t announced their reopening plans for fall. All colleges are desperate for as many students as possible to attend college and pay tuition!
Should YOU Appeal YOUR Financial Aid Award?
There are several factors to take into consideration when deciding whether or not to appeal your financial aid award. Here’s a list of questions to get you started:
- Have your circumstances changed? If there are extenuating circumstances (like family medical bills or a recent layoff) that the financial aid office should know about, it would be reasonable to file an appeal. Be prepared to offer documentation.
- Expenses that were brought on by choice, like a vacation or a new car, are not going to sway the financial aid office in your favor, so don’t bother filing an appeal based on those grounds.
- Don’t try to negotiate with the financial aid office. They aim to be as thorough as possible and it is fair to present new information such as a more generous offer from another school, but there are no guarantees.
- If you do choose to appeal, file as soon as possible, before all of the available award dollars have been spent.
- Ask the financial aid office for advice. It’s a good idea to call ahead for an appointment with a financial aid counselor. They may be able to recommend other avenues to pursue for help financing your college education.
If you do choose to create an appeal letter, include any new circumstances that have arisen, address it to the correct department, and finish the letter with a polite phrase along the lines of, “Thank you for your consideration.” While they may decline your request to appeal, few students take this route. Your student has nothing to lose other than a simple “no,” so why not give it a shot?
Remember, those administering financial aid want to help you, so be truthful about the change in your circumstances while remaining respectful and open-minded. They might just side in your favor!
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If you need help navigating your options, Westface College Planning can help! Give us a call at 360-818-7728 or start with our free Tackling the Runaway Costs of College Webinar!
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