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How Financial Aid Appeal Letters Work

The Appeals Process

Once you submit your appeal letter, it goes to a financial aid administrator. Most colleges give administrators freedom to decide if an appeal has merit. Procedures vary between institutions but the general process usually follows the same path.

First, the financial aid administrator reads over the letter and decides if the request merits further consideration. Poorly worded or organized letters may be discarded relatively quickly. If the author of the letter fails to present a compelling case, the administrator may disregard the letter. Assuming that the letter presents a valid point, the financial aid administrator moves on to the next step.


In the case of a change in financial status, that step may require additional work from the student. The administrator may contact the student and ask for further documentation. This could include tax returns, earnings statements and similar financial records. The student should hand these over for review if necessary.

The financial aid office administrator will review the documentation before deciding if the appeal is valid. If it is, the financial aid administrator will send a new offer to the student. During busier times in the school year this process may take several weeks.

In the case of a student appealing the loss of financial aid due to academic performance, the administrator must decide if the appeal letter adequately explains the situation. Students who have shown a willingness to improve their academic standing have a better chance of seeing their financial aid packages reinstated. Some financial aid administrators may place requirements on the student ranging from maintaining a certain GPA to seeking a tutor.

The time between an appeal and a response may be just a few days or it could last for weeks. Each college is different. Generally speaking, financial aid offices begin to get busy a few weeks before classes start. Things may not slow down until several weeks after classes begin.

If you feel you deserve reconsideration regarding your financial aid offer, write a letter that's honest and to the point. It's the job of the financial aid administrators to match aid packages to students who need and deserve them.

For more on financial aid and other related topics, take a look at the links below.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • College Board. "Dealing with the Financial Aid Office." 2010. (Jan. 20, 2010)
  • Financial Aid Finder. "Increasing Your Financial Aid Package." 2009. (Jan. 20, 2010)
  • Lawrence, Carolyn Z. "Appealing Financial Aid Offers." April 2, 2009. (Jan. 20, 2010)
  • South Plains College. "How to Appeal Financial Aid Suspension." 2010. (Jan 20, 2010)
  • University of Florida. "Appealing a Change to Your Financial Aid Budget." Sept. 10, 2009. (Jan. 20, 2010)
  • Veeder, Samantha et al. "Financial Aid Appeal Pitfalls." University Business. March 2007. (Jan 20, 2010)