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How to Appeal Your Financial Aid Award

Receiving a college education may be the single most important accomplishment that one may achieve in their entire life time.

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It’s spring semester of your senior year and you’ve received a number of acceptance letters and financial aid packages. Or maybe you’re a sophomore in college thinking about paying for your next year of school. What do you do if you feel that going to the school of your dreams is only possible if they give you a bit more money? You simply ask them for more money. This might sound daunting, but if you are able to explain why you deserve a larger scholarship or grant, many schools will consider your appeal. To increase your chances of receiving more aid you need to have a strong argument, calculate exact numbers, and know the right people to connect with.

The first step in asking for more financial aid is figuring out why you need more money. Schools calculate financial aid based on your parents’ tax information from the previous year, but that information doesn’t always tell the whole story. For example, if someone in your family has high medical bills or a parent recently lost their job, the school won’t know unless you tell them. Sit down with your family and figure out why you are having trouble coming up with the money. Another reason to ask for money is if a similar school offered you more financial aid. You can provide your first-choice college with the other school’s financial aid package and ask that they try to give you a similar award.

The next step is to calculate the exact amount that is prohibiting you from attending your school of choice. Perhaps you won’t be able to afford textbooks, you will need health insurance from the school, or you’re coming up a few thousand short for housing. Often, students can ask the financial aid office for a more thorough breakdown of what the cost of attendance is. This can help you see if the school is budgeting reasonable amounts for miscellaneous expenses. A school might allot 300 dollars a year for travel to and from school for students who live across the country and students just down the street. Students farther away might need to petition for more money to be able to move in.

The last step is to find the right person to speak with. Prospective students might want to speak with someone from the admissions staff first. Admissions counselors have a vested interest in the students they accept, and they’d like to see them attend the school. An admissions counselor might give you a phone number or email address for a financial aid counselor, or they might even forward along your appeal themselves. Current students can contact the financial aid office and ask what the process for submitting an appeal is. Sometimes appeals go directly to the director of financial aid, and other times it goes to counselors specifically trained to take a second look at financial aid offers. It is best to submit a written appeal. This allows you to have it checked for clarity by others, and you don’t have to worry about stumbling over your words out loud. A well-written, persuasive appeal could make the college of your dreams an affordable choice.