Students may find themselves writing a financial aid appeal letter for a number of reasons. For instance, you may have had your financial aid suspended for unsatisfactory academic performance or other status-changing circumstances (such as being the subject of disciplinary action). Or, you may be appealing to negotiate for more financial aid.
Regardless of this background, you'll want to avoid doing or saying certain things when writing your financial aid appeal letter. Here are five of them.
1. Not Meeting With A Counselor First
Before you decide to write a financial aid appeal letter, definitely set some time aside to have a talk with your college's financial aid office. You'll want to do this to better understand the reasons for their decision and to talk through some of the facts you'll present in your financial aid appeal letter.
The counselor may give you tips on what to write or how to structure your argument. They may also let you know if you do not have a strong enough case to appeal.
2. Blaming Someone/Something Else
In the case where you are writing an appeal letter because your financial aid was suspended, don't blame others for your predicament. Bad grades? Don't blame your teachers—instead, take responsibility. Explain why your grades were poor and what you plan to do to bring your grades up.
Took too few credits? Don't point fingers at the registration options—instead, explain how you plan to stay above the required credit threshold. You'll sound much more convincing if you take full responsibility than if you point fingers.
3. Not Offering A Real Solution
If you messed up and lost your aid, that's OK. Everyone makes mistakes, right? What matters is what you've learned from your mistakes and how you will change your behavior to make sure that they don't happen again.
For those of you appealing a suspended financial aid package due to poor academic performance, here are some examples of potential solutions to provide in your letter:
- Presenting a clear academic plan
- Getting a tutor
- Setting up regular meetings with your academic adviser
- Scheduling regular check-ins with your professors
- Finding out if it's possible to earn extra credit in your classes
- Creating a study group
For those of you appealing for more financial aid, you'll need to present real facts—like a change in your family's income—that will explain why you need the additional financial aid. Make sure that you can document this change.
Whether you are appealing to receive more financial aid or to have your financial aid reinstated, do not lie in your appeal letter.
Let's say your financial aid was suspended because your GPA dropped below the minimum requirements set by your school. As easy as it may be to make up a "family emergency," take ownership instead. Give an honest answer like, "I wasn't ready for the challenges of college life. I'm now prepared to fix this by visiting with a tutor once a week …"
5. Using A Template Letter
While looking at an example financial aid appeal letter is helpful by way of inspiration, don't just use it as a template for your situation. Everyone's circumstances are different.
For a matter as important as your college financial aid package, you definitely don't want to use a template financial aid appeal letter at the risk of not getting your voice across. Getting your financial aid back is not about how great of a writer you are; it's more about your specific circumstances and the facts that you have to support your case.
Don't focus so much about your writing style, and just try to get your points across clearly.