It’s Not Too Late: Guide to Appealing Financial Aid

It’s Not Too Late: Guide to Appealing Financial Aid
Izzy Hall

Have your financial circumstances changed due to COVID-19? You’re not alone. Many students and their families have faced unemployment, reduced job hours and general loss of economic stability in the wake of the pandemic. And as the FAFSA determines your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) based on income from the previous year, students may have greater financial need now than they did when they initially filed for federal aid. Unfortunately, the deadline to submit the FAFSA passed at the end of June. However, it is not too late to appeal your student financial aid from your chosen institution.

The process to appeal student financial aid will be different at every school, but in general, the first step is contacting your college’s financial aid office. They’ll be able to give you the documents you need to complete your appeal to direct you to a financial aid portal. Schools may also require you to write a letter detailing why you are appealing your financial aid. This can be a simple bulleted list of the circumstances that have impacted your ability to pay for college.

Along with filling forms, you’ll likely need to provide documented proof of your changed financial situation. Emergency bills, pink slips, pay stubs with reduced income or unemployment benefits can be used to verify your appeal. If your intended college(s) lets you electronically submit your appeal, you can scan in these documents or take a photo. If they require an appeal by mail, you’ll have to include the original copies. It’s recommended that you send in your documents as certified mail, meaning you will get a receipt with proof that the post was mailed. Be sure to call your financial aid office to confirm that they received your documents.

If circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic mean you can no longer pay for college, appealing for more financial aid ASAP can help. College and university financial aid offices across the country are anticipating a significant increase in students who will appeal their college financial aid packages. They now have more freedom in meeting student’s financial needs, as the Department of Education issued a statement allowing schools to give more aid in these novel circumstances. On top of that, the CARES Act for Higher Education has increased many schools’ financial aid budgets. If you submitted a financial aid appeal in previous years without success, you may have more luck getting the full college financial aid you need this year.

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