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How to Write an Appeal Letter for

Financial Aid
5 Financial Aid Appeal Letter Samples
Guidelines When Preparing Your Letter.
1. When possible, deliver the financial aid appeal letter in person.
2. Try to address the letter to a specific person in the financial aid office.
3. Check the schools websites to both understand and follow schools appeal process,
pay attention to required forms that go with your letter.
4. Ideal letter length is one page (not always possible), use a block style letter format
like the samples below.
5. The tone of your letter should be polite and respectful. Do not use the word
negotiate or bargain. Do not refer to financial aid staff personnel as Officer.
6. You must determine whether you are appealing for more federal money and/or
institutional money. Federal regulations limit how FAFSA data can change. CSS
PROFILE schools adhere to general principles from the College Board. These
guidelines measure more family financial data than the FAFSA. Individual elements
can vary from school to school; for example, the deductibility of private high school
tuition from financial aid income in the familys expected family contribution
7. The Financial Aid Office can exercise Professional Judgment granted by
Higher Education Act Section 479(a)[HEA] which can award you more financial
assistance. Relative family financial information according to regulatory provisions
and school practices are necessary for success.

Strategy Alert: Do-it-yourself appeals can fall short without proper

knowledge of rules/regulations that affect financial aid income and without the proper
approaches/strategies that allow the financial aid personnel to provide additional

Financial Aid Appeal Strategies

1. Special Circumstance/s Appeal

When there are recognized changes in a familys financial situation that affect their
ability to pay for college. We have identified 20 broad categories that divide into many
family situations.
Above each sample letter below we identify circumstances within each letter.

2. Institutional Appeals: Examples Admit to Deny | Low Ball

This occurs when you do not have any special circumstances but you feel the financial
aid award is inadequate. Check the fairness of the financial aid offer based upon the
historical financial awards of the college (Percentage of Need Met).

In some situations an institutional appeal can be included with a special circumstance

appeal especially when the initial financial aid awards percentage need met is low.,

Our software calculates this information.

3. Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP Appeal)

When your GPA falls below a certain standard or your attempted credit hours exceed a
certain time frame, you will receive a SAP letter indicating you are not longer eligible for
federal student aid.

You can appeal your SAP status. First, go to the schools website and review their SAP
appeal process and follow the instructions carefully. Second, write your letter indicating
what caused you to underperform. Third, what is your Academic Plan to correct the

4. Student Budget Adjustment

The Higher Education Act allows the Financial Aid Office to make certain adjustments
to the student budget component of the Cost of Attendance. Such an adjustment can be
a dollar for dollar increase in financial aid unlike an adjustment to financial aid income.

Inflated Income | One Time Disability Insurance

Benefit and Forced Stock Liquidation Payment

Financial Appeal Letter # 1 Special Circumstances

Ms. Jennifer Lopez
Financial Aid Officer Students M-S
University of the Pacific
165 University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90002
Dear Ms. Lopez;

We submitted our Financial Aid Forms FAFSA and CSS Profile on May 30, 2013.

We did not file earlier because we filed last year and did not qualify for financial
assistance. We recently became aware that if we notified Honors University and
documented our financial hardship that your decision this year might be different.

Cindy and John Stevens are the parents of Julie M. Stevens who hopefully can start her
senior year 2013 and graduate the following spring meeting her graduation goal of 4

Please bear with us while we take you back in time to explain the severe accident that
occurred and the medical / financial devastation to a very successful executive (Exhibit
1) and to his family.

John Stevens was traveling on business when he suffered a severe stroke in June 2011.
After a life saving-operation John received physiological, occupational, speech, and
psychological therapy, and assistance from family members.

As a result of the stroke, Johns official status is total and permanent disability with not
possibility of employment. This status was determined by the Social Security
Administration upon the first review (Exhibit 2).

John suffers multiple ailments including heart complications, short term memory loss
with significant walking impairments.

John before is required resignation (Exhibit 3) was a senior executive with his company.
The company provided their senior executives disability insurance. He received a total
of $940,000 pre-tax paid which was paid in June 2012. A significant part of the
distribution was removed by required federal and state taxes (Exhibit 4).

His company also provided stock options which had to because of a forced liquidation
measure when the owner leaves the companys employment. The taxable distribution of
$325,000 was received in January 2012 (Exhibit 5).

The disability payment and stock option distribution are one-time events which
unfortunately inflates the familys actual ability to contribute to Julies education. The
disability payment has to provide care for the rest of Johns life, he is currently 53. The
stock distribution was used to purchase living quarters that included making the home
handicapped ready. This was necessary since his only income is Social Security and his
wife earns $14,000 per year. It would be impossible to qualify for a mortgage.

We are asking Honors University to consider our special circumstances as you review
our situation recognizing the FAFSA results inflate our family income and overstates our
financial ability to pay for Julies senior year.


Unusual Income Event | Loss of Child Support |

Sibling Private Education Tuition Expense | Loss
of Income
Appeal Letter #2 Special Circumstances
Ms. Joan Stinson, M.B.A.
Financial Director School Name
1640 5th Street
Berea, OH 44017
Dear Ms. Stinson;

We would thank you for the schools financial award of $13,750 per year, (Exhibit 1).

My son, Gil and I are excited about the possibility of him attending your school.
Through our research we understand the academic and community life offerings which
we feel are an outstanding opportunity for Gil.

However, we would like to bring to your attention our strained financial situation that
may result in Gil not being able to attend your school.

As you know we applied for Financial Aid with the completion of the FAFSA.

Our family 2012 income reported on the FAFSA was estimated at $104,215.

The FAFSA does not accurately depict our family financial situation and the ability to
contribute to Gils college expenses.

First my income was higher last year as a result of an unusual bonus from my employer
of $29,000. The generous act on my employers part is a one-time event and will not be
repeated in 2013.
I no longer receive child support from Gils biological father because he turned 18 years
five months ago. This reduces our family income by $8,400. On top of that I asked Gils
father to help with educational costs and he said he would not help. We were divorced in
2016 (Exhibit 2).

In addition, we are responsible for our 14-year old sons private school tuition which for
this year is $7,500 and trending upwards.

On top of all this my husband lost his job a three months ago. In this economy and at his
age (58) we are hopeful but very uncertain when he might find employment. In the
meantime we no longer receive his income. He is receiving unemployment benefits
(Exhibit 3 Monthly Income Reduction).

Both Gil and I sincerely appreciate your time in reviewing our financial situation. As you
can see the FAFSA reporting process does not account for our situation.

Gils first choice is your school, it always has been since he first researched your school
and visited. He especially likes the English major department head (Professor Johnson)
who he was fortunate to meet.

We have no other choice without your consideration in looking toward several other
schools where Gil was accepted and received financial aid awards. In doing our budget
these schools are more affordable with our available financial resources and family
ability to pay for college.

Gil wants to attend your school but understands the financial situation. His first choice
remains your college (insert name).

Can you consider making your offer more affordable to our family by improving the
offer to $19,000 from the current $12,600?

Gil, his father, and I would like to meet with you next week to thank you for your
consideration in person.

We will call for an appointment.

Thank you so much for your assistance.

Exhibits: (4)

cc: Professor Johnson

One-Time Income Bonus | Accounting Only
Entry Resulting in Taxable Income with out
Receipt Cash Flow

Appeal Letter #3 Special Circumstances

Mr. Jack Caldwell
Director of Financial Aid Great Lakes College
100 N. Main Street
Detroit, MI 48203
Dear Mr. Caldwell:

When we filed our FAFSA we were very surprised at our income totals computed by the
financial aid form that totaled $197,000. Our familys income included three very
unusual one-time income events.

1. A one-time bonus of $95,000 granted in 2013 that will not be awarded in 2014 or
any year thereafter.
2. A paper transaction without constructive receipt of the money resulting in taxable
income of $38,500 from an irrevocable trust.
3. A book-only income entry from a non-participatory S corporation in the amount of
According to a Financial Aid Administrator at Walden University, under a rule called
professional judgment, my paper income can be ignored, since it cannot be used for
college expenses, and my one-time bonus of $70,000 can be eliminated from income
and treated as an asset.

Walden indicated from their review of our special circumstances and our FAFSA filing
we would be eligible to receive $14,755 in financial aid from their university.

Great Lakes College is my daughters number one choice because she is impressed with
your college community and wants to play volleyball for Great Lakes College (see letter
from your Volleyball coach).

She has offers for her athletic abilities from other schools, University of ABC, State
University at Illinois, and College of Williams as well as some other Division III schools.

Your school is more expensive than any of the schools we are considering. However, we
would select your school if you would consider our unusual financial circumstances
reference above.
Please review our special circumstances. We are asking for an adjustment to our income
calculation computed by the FAFSA that would qualify us for the $14,755 indicated by
Walden University. Without the adjustment its highly likely my daughter can attend
your school.

I would appreciate a response as soon as possible, so we can make the appropriate

arrangements for my daughters future.


EFC Reduction | Two Students in College

Appeal Letter # 4 Institutional Appeal

Ms. Karen Smith
Financial Aid Officer
Anywhere University
1000 Any Street
City, State, ZIP Code
RE: Financial Award Letter for Heath Jones, Student OSI ID Number # 16-593940

Dear Ms. Smith:

Our family would like to thank you for Heaths recent financial aid award letter.
However, we are very concerned with the results. Our expected family contribution
dropped from $20,365 in 2010-11 to $6,987 for the 2012-13 school year, yet the award
package left us with an additional need of over $8,500. The reduction in this years EFC
is due to a reduction in assets, plus the fact that we will be sending two students to
college during the 2011-2012 year. In spite of these changes, however, the amount of the
current award is essentially the same as the award for 2010-11.

Every college publication on the market states your university meets about 95% of its
students need, and we have seen award letters sent to high school seniors in our area
substantiating this number. We would like to request that Anywhere University reward
Heath, a current student with a 3.4 GPA, an award package equal to, or better than, an
incoming freshman. It will be financially difficult for us to continue to send Heath to
Anywhere University without an increase in financial aid.

We would appreciate your review of our circumstances and a response to our present
award package as soon as possible, so that we may begin to make alternative
arrangements, if necessary.

Demonstrated Interest | Matching Another

Financial Award

Appeal Letter #5 Institutional Appeal

Mr. Lionel Anderson
Director of Financial Aid
Anywhere University
1000 Any Street
City, State, ZIP Code
RE: Financial Award Letter for Heather Smith, AU Student ID Number: 15-14938

Dear Mr. Anderson:

Enclosed are our Student Aid Report and a copy of (Another Universitys) Award Letter
per our recent telephone conversation. We discussed our familys present financial
situation and how it would be financially difficult for Heather to attend Anywhere
University unless the university reconsiders her financial aid amount. You said you
would do everything possible to provide additional assistance for Heather and suggested
we send you the above stated information.

As you know, Heather is a very talented young lady and truly wants to attend your
school. However, as the enclosed (Other Universitys) award shows, other schools have
committed substantially more money to Heathers education.

Both my wife and I obtained new jobs last year and are trying to pay the debt we
incurred while unemployed during the past year. This has forced us to take a seriously
consider Stanfords award as an economically viable alternative. However, Heather
would prefer to attend Anywhere University. If there is any way you can increase
Heathers award to make the cost of Anywhere University affordable for us, Heather will
commit to attending your university for the 2011-2012 school year.

Please contact me as soon as possible so that we can make the appropriate

arrangements for Heathers future.

Best Regards,