How to Write a Financial Aid Appeal Letter

Monday, September 23, 2019
How To Write Financial Aid Appeal Letter

As you prepare to apply to colleges and begin to submit your applications, the thought of education cost and financial aid is likely on your mind. 

You might be surprised to learn that once a college or university offers you your initial financial aid, you can write an appeal if you determine the offer is not sufficient to cover your costs. This is called professional judgement, and it requires a step-by-step process. 


1. Write A Letter of Appeal

The first step is to write a detailed letter that explains why you initiated the appeal in the first place. You can approach it from several angles. Perhaps your appeal is need-based, and you simply cannot afford to attend without expanded financial coverage due to extenuating circumstances or expenses. On the other hand, you might file a merit-based appeal, indicating your academic achievements improved during the time since you submitted your original FAFSA. In this latter instance, you would want to include awards or other evidence of academic excellence to further substantiate your appeal. 

If you feel stuck, and find yourself needing some inspiration to flesh out your own letter of appeal, read through the example letter below, written by a student who successfully lobbied for more financial aid: 

RE: Financial Aid Appeal—Knomi Smith

Dear Sir or Madam:

Since my acceptance to Agnes Scott College, I have looked forward to attending in the fall of 2018. Although I have been accepted at other institutions, Agnes Scott is my first choice. This is because Agnes Scott offers greater opportunities for a comprehensive education than some of my other options and lives up to its number 2 ranking of most innovative colleges. I have read about the educational opportunities, travel, partnerships and avenues for hands-on learning there. I have visited the campus and have concluded that Agnes is the best fit for me. I hope to enter the dual degree program and attain degrees in both mathematics and civil engineering. I am convinced by what I know now about Agnes Scott, with its nurturing and uplifting environment, that I will be able to accomplish fully my goals there and enjoy my educational experience.

I thank you for the financial aid and scholarship package that you have granted me. While it enables me to cover most of my costs, my financial situation is such that I feel compelled to request additional funds, if available to me, in order that I may enroll in the fall. I have attached a spreadsheet which details what has been offered to me by other schools. 

My mother is a single parent and is unable to assist me. I have worked hard in high school to overcome educational obstacles and personal hardships. I am eager to attain an education so that I will be able to live more securely than I lived as a young child and also contribute to the well-being of others. Therefore, I ask that you reconsider me for further financial assistance. Presently, I need more than [amount offered] to enroll. Anything that you do for me would be greatly appreciated.


Knomi Smith


2. Mail your Letter

The next step is to mail your appeal. Prior to completing this step, it is a good idea to verify the appropriate address to send your letter to. You can do this by contacting the school in question. There is a good chance that depending upon the nature of your appeal, there will be specific offices to which you should send your letter. For example, it wouldn’t be uncommon for a merit-based appeal letter to be directed to the office of admission. 


3. Follow Up

Be sure to follow up on your letter. Approximately one week after mailing your letter, it is appropriate to call the school to verify their receipt of your letter. Do not use this time to double down on your reasons for filing an appeal. Instead, politely check to confirm receipt, and thank the representative for their time. Beyond this step, all you can do it await a final word. 

Once you have completed the process of appeal, your last step is to wait for a final decision to be handed down. NSHSS wishes you luck in both your college application process and in any subsequent professional judgement steps you may take.