Students Who Successfully Appealed Financial Aid Awards

September 21, 2021

Students Who Successfully Appealed Financial Aid Awards

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Schools and the federal government want students to get the aid they need to attend college. This is why both offer at least some financial aid. The process of appealing for financial aid can help qualifying applicants get more funds for college. Student or family financial circumstances may change after applicants submit their FAFSA. Entering into an appeal conversation with FAFSA can help students access more aid.

Students may also appeal for more aid through their schools. Appealing financial aid from schools requires several steps. Students should contact the financial aid office, write a detailed letter, and submit financial documentation.

Consult our resource center and the page below for details on financial appeal reasons and processes.

How Often Are Financial Aid Appeals Approved?

The federal government may adjust financial aid offerings if applicants' financial situation declines significantly. One reason could be a major change in income.

Appealing FAFSA requires making online corrections. These corrections get processed in 3-5 business days. Applicants then receive an updated Student Aid Report (SAR) reflecting these changes. Prospective schools can access this updated SAR. They may adjust their aid offerings if the applicant submits an additional appeal letter and documentation.

According to Consumer Reports, some colleges grant additional aid to about one-third of students who appeal.

What Is a Reason to Appeal Financial Aid?

FAFSA considers adjusting federal financial aid when applicants face major financial changes. These changes include unemployment and significant income loss. Changes in dependency status, household numbers, or numbers of college students in the home can qualify applicants for federal financial aid adjustments.

Students can make financial aid appeals for institutional financial aid. They can begin by submitting appeal letters and documentation to their prospective schools' financial aid offices. Many schools adjust aid based on appeals documenting new prohibitive expenses. These can include childcare, a death in the family, or medical costs.

Supporting elderly family members or recovering from asset damage from natural disasters also may qualify you for aid changes. Citing better financial aid offers from other schools can improve offerings.

How Many Times Can You Appeal for FAFSA?

Applicants can make financial aid appeals for additional aid multiple times. However, if circumstances only change once and the appeal is rejected, it's best to look for other funding opportunities. These options include scholarships, private loans, and tuition reimbursement programs. Students may find jobs or paid internships that can help offset educational expenses.

Some sources discourage applicants from requesting a specific financial aid sum when appealing financial aid packages. This is because financial aid decisions depend on documented changes in financial aid circumstances rather than on student wishes.

Interview With a Student Who Successfully Appealed Their Financial Aid Award

Darrelle Radcliff is a current college student at Cuesta College in San Luis Obispo, CA. She is pursuing a double degree in Theatre Arts and Liberal Arts: Art & Humanities.

Q. Why Did You Decide to Appeal Your Financial Aid?

I decided to appeal my financial aid because I got over the 2.0 GPA that is required to receive financial aid. My overall completion rate was under the requirement, which is why I had to do the appeal. I need my financial aid to pay for textbooks, supplies, parking, and gas to get to school.

Q. Was the Process Difficult?

No. The financial aid office emailed a link to start the appeal process. I had the questions that were asked in the link and could attend an online workshop. Sometimes schools want more information or documentation on why you were below the requirements.

Q. How Long Did It Take From Start to Finish?

My appeal process started on Aug. 2, 2021 and was approved on Aug. 27, 2021. The financial aid office says it can take 3-5 weeks. Mine took about three weeks.

Q. What Are Some Tips For Other Students Who Want to Appeal Their Financial Aid?

Answer all the questions truthfully. Only take the classes that are in your major. This is because your financial aid will not give you money for classes not in your major. Use any school resources to help you pass all your classes. If you have disabilities, look for programs at your school that can provide you with notetakers, books on tape, tutoring, and free printing services.

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