For most families, the act of opening the financial aid offer letter is a harrowing one. In just a few short sentences they will see how much a college or university is willing to offer in the way of student loans and scholarships. But what happens when that figure is too low?
Believe it or not, a student aid package that offered less than expected does not necessarily mean the end of the road. In some cases, a borrower can appeal to the school for more money. So how can this be done?
When to Appeal
For starters, strike the word “negotiate” from your vocabulary. If you call a financial aid office and tell them you want to negotiate your student loan package, it will be a very short phone call. You are not negotiating. You are “appealing.” There is a difference. The first step is to call the financial aid office and inquire about the process of submitting an appeal. Most likely, you will be asked to write a letter explaining, in detail, why you feel the aid package should be reconsidered.
Your appeal letter will explain, in brief, the grounds on which you are appealing the financial aid offer. You should decide early on whether this an appeal for need or for merit, or for both. If it is an appeal for need, you must demonstrate to the school that your federal aid package simply isn’t enough for you to afford attending the school. More than likely, a successful appeal based on need will cover a recent change in your financial situation, such as a series of expensive medical bills or a parent losing his or her job. You will need evidence to back up your claim, including copies of bills and pay stubs.
You may also appeal on the grounds of merit. An exceptional student may be eligible for various scholarships or grants. Look into the criteria for these awards. The best evidence to appeal on these grounds is a stronger scholarship offer from a similar school.