How Financial Aid Appeal Letters Work

Be prepared to support your appeal with documentation.
Be prepared to support your appeal with documentation.

Going to college is expensive. Many students depend upon financial aid to provide the money they need to cover expenses like tuition and textbooks. But what should a student do if a college gives less aid than the student needs or turns down his or her request?

Most college financial aid offices have an appeals process. By following this process, it may be possible for the student to secure financial aid that had previously been denied. For students who had financial aid but then lost it, this process gives them a chance to ask the college to reinstate it.

There are many reasons a college might deny or revoke financial aid. If financial aid administrators determine the student's financial status doesn't warrant aid, they may choose to deny that student in favor of others. A student's performance can also affect his or her chance to receive aid. Students who perform poorly may fall below their school's requirements and see their aid revoked as a result.

Students who receive financial aid from scholarship programs and grants may also encounter problems. Some colleges will reduce financial aid to students who receive money from other sources. Students who depend upon the college's financial aid to help cover all expenses may need to appeal such decisions.

A financial aid office may grant a student aid based partly upon that student's financial status. If that status changes, the student may find that he or she needs additional aid. Examples of a qualifying change may include the death of a wage-earning family member, divorce or loss of benefits. The appeal process gives students the chance to request more aid by explaining the situation to the college.

While an appeal letter won't guarantee that a student will receive previously denied funds, an objective and well-structured message may be enough to prompt the financial aid office to reconsider the situation.