How to write a financial aid appeal letter to request more college financial aid (with a letter template!)
You’ve received your college acceptance letters –but the financial aid award offered to you just isn’t enough. Maybe that’s because your top-choice school has offered you less aid than other schools, or because your financial circumstances have recently changed. Don’t worry – your aid offer is not necessarily final. You can write a financial aid appeal letter to request a revised financial aid package. Here’s how.
- Why might I write a financial aid appeal letter?
- What information should I include in the appeal letter?
- How do I submit the financial aid appeal letter?
- When should I submit the financial aid appeal letter?
- How long will it take for me to receive an appeal decision?
- What if they still don’t give me enough financial aid money?
- Financial Aid Appeal Letter Example Template
- Download these financial aid appeal letter examples.
- Curious about other financial aid resources?
Why might I write a financial aid appeal letter?
There are four common scenarios for why you might want to appeal your original financial aid offer, and request more aid:
1) You just got admitted, but it’s just not enough. You were thrilled when you received an acceptance letter to your top school, but then less than thrilled when you got your financial aid award letter. Now, you can’t afford to attend without more aid.
2) You received a better offer at another school. Your top choice school has offered you less financial aid than another school. You want to see if you can use your other offer as a bargaining chip, to negotiate for more aid at your top school.
3) Your FAFSA didn’t reflect some nuanced financial situation. Maybe your parents will likely earn way less this year because they work freelance and their main client dropped out. Maybe your family has debt outside the United States, or informal debt to family members.
4) Your financial circumstances have changed. Your family now has a different (lower) ability to contribute to your college expenses. Common reasons for this include a family member losing their job, a birth or death in the family, separation or divorce, medical bills, and special needs children. This change might have occurred between when you filed your FAFSA and when you received your original financial aid offer, OR it might occur in the middle of a school year. In this case, you can appeal to have your next semester’s aid raised.
If you have multiple reasons for appealing, you’ll need to decide how to strategize what to include vs. exclude. (Avoid an overly long letter.) For help figuring out your best negotiation strategy, check out our free College Cost Insights & Appeal product.
What information should I include in the appeal letter?
- Address the letter to someone in the financial aid office, ideally the Director of Financial Aid. Similar to writing a cover letter, this should be addressed to a person rather than a generic greeting such as “to whom it may concern.” Including the person’s name at least twice throughout the appeal letter gives the letter a personal touch.
- If you’re a high school senior (rather than already enrolled at the college), begin by stating how thrilled and grateful you are to have been accepted. Be clear about why you want to go to the school, as well as why you are a student they should want to keep (You’re hardworking, you’re high-achieving, etc.).
- Be honest and specific about your family’s circumstances. Explain your reason for writing, and use numbers if possible.
- If you’ve received an alternative (higher) offer, be clear about that.
- Attach documentation that backs up your appeal reason. Most college financial aid offices will request documentation anyway, so this speeds up the process.
- Keep the letter to one page.
- Thank the person at the end of the letter.
Want a template? Sign up for Going Merry, and you’ll be able to access our FREE College Cost Insights & Appeal product–which includes more detailed instructions on how to identify your best appeals strategy, plus a template letter.
How do I submit the financial aid appeal letter?
Check the college’s website for more information on how to appeal the award package, as they may have a specific procedure they’d like you to follow.
If no process is indicated, contact the college’s financial aid office. Many colleges will have a specific individual assigned to people with last names starting with a certain letters. Email that person instead of the generic financial aid office email.
Note that you most colleges will ask you for documentation to confirm any claims you make in your letter. Attaching the documentation from the beginning can speed up the process and improve your chances of a successful appeal, because it shows you are proactive and truthful. If you choose not attach documentation from the start, be sure to at least have this documentation ready.
When should I submit the financial aid appeal letter?
Submit the appeal as soon as possible to give the college ample time to review your request and provide you with a decision. Make sure you consider when your deposit/decision deadline is–and send in your appeal letter at least two weeks before this date.
If you’re deadline has already passed (and you’ve made your deposit), it’s still possible to appeal on the basis of changed financial circumstances, but of course you will have less leverage.
How long will it take for me to receive an appeal decision?
The timing will depend upon the college, their review process, and how close you are to the deposit deadline. But generally it should take 1-4 weeks. You can contact the college’s financial aid office to confirm how long the process should take, if you’re worried about the timing.
What if they still don’t give me enough financial aid money?
External scholarships might be able to fill in some of your financial gap. You can apply for scholarships based on your location, community service, extracurriculars, merit, and other factors. Make sure you keep an eye on scholarship deadlines and follow all instructions to apply. Scholarships are considered to be free money because you just need to qualify, apply, and wait patiently to see if you’re awarded the money.
Or if you just want help understanding your college budget, check out our free College Cost Insights & Appeal product.
Financial Aid Appeal Letter Example Template
Want a template for your financial aid appeal letter? No problem! Sign up for our free College Cost Insights & Appeal product to get:
- A template appeal letter
- Instructional videos/tips on how to identify your strongest negotiation points for your appeal
- A cost analysis of your current financial aid offer — including how much student debt you’d likely need to take on to pay for college
Partial Appeal Letter (Example)
My name is [Charlie Jones], and I’m a high school senior attending [High School] in [City, State]. I feel honored and thrilled to have recently been admitted to the [University of Higher Education], as it is my number one choice.
However, I’m concerned about my ability to finance my college education at your school, so I am writing to respectfully request an adjustment to my financial aid award.
To be clear, I would love to attend [University of Higher Education]. [INSERT TWO CLEAR REASONS YOU’RE INTERESTED.]
[[Want to unlock this middle part of the appeal letter template? Sign up for our FREE Insights & Appeal product!]]
I appreciate your time in reconsidering my financial aid award. Please let me know if you need additional documents, information, or to answer questions pertaining to my financial aid appeal request.
Download these financial aid appeal letter examples.
Get your own copy of a sample financial aid appeal letter, which you can customize to your specific situation. (We give precise examples on how you might do this.)
Curious about other financial aid resources?
Check out these blog posts for more information on funding your education:
- How to understand your financial aid award letter
- How to apply for scholarships
- How student loans work
- The ultimate financial aid guide
If you’re ready to apply for scholarships and increase your funds for college, get started with Going Merry! Sign up for your free profile. We’ll match you with scholarships based on your profile, and you can easily apply with the click of a button.