Ask the Experts – How Do I Appeal My Financial Aid Package?

April 24, 2012 | posted by College Money Insider.

The following question was submitted via our Ask the Experts form. If you want to know about student financing or anything related to it, send a question our way!

“Hello. My son got into college, and after several queries and delays, he finally got his award letter today.  After looking it over, the package seems very unreasonable. He only received one Pell Grant worth $602. The rest is all loans, including a $17,000 unsubsidized parent loan, for a total of $21,000. I am not sure how they got to that figure. Do you have any idea how to take it up and appeal? Thanks.”

Thanks for the question. We’re sorry to hear that your son was not awarded as much as expected. We first recommend that you look into the college’s financial aid policy. Not every school follows the same formula when allocating aid, so it would be good to get a better understanding of how your son’s school came to the figure they did.

If your calculation still differs from the one you received, then we recommend you contact the school’s financial aid office and ask about the appeal process. You will probably be asked to write a letter of appeal, and in that letter, you will have to specify to them why your package isn’t sufficient enough for your son to afford attending the school.

Your best chance at a successful appeal will be if your financial situation has changed since your son applied. For example, if you or your spouse lost your job, or if you had to incur unexpected medical expenses, then you may have a strong case to appeal the award. Be prepared to provide the necessary paperwork (termination notices, medical bills, etc.) to substantiate your claim.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t submit an appeal if your financial situation has stayed the same. Financial aid officers make errors too, so if you spot something that doesn’t look right, then you should let them know. That being said, you are facing much more of an uphill battle, as schools will be less eager to revisit information they’ve already examined.  Be sure of what you are asking for, and be ready to support this request with documentation.

Finally, remember to follow general rules of etiquette when corresponding with your son’s school. You might be frustrated by the whole process, but don’t let that show. The school will be far more likely to help you out if you convey a sense of friendliness and civility!

We wish you and your son the best of luck. We hope it all works out!

Image: Danilo Rizzuti