The Right Way To Appeal A Financial Aid Decision

In some instances, students are denied financial aid needed to attend college or offered less than that student feels is right or fair.  Because of the way government programs are designed, whether as a grant, scholarship, or work study, these students have the right to file an appeal.  However, since the appeal process takes a little time, it would be imperative for the student to file as quickly as possible.  That way, the appropriate documentation would get submitted for reassessment, thereby not causing that student to miss starting college for that particular semester.

If you find yourself in a position of needing financial aid for college, a situation shared by millions of other people, it would be beneficial for you to start looking at various funding options as soon as you have chosen a college or university to attend.  The initial form that needs to be completed and submitted is called an FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.  We cannot stress enough the importance of answering every question with honesty and to the level of detail requested.  That way, risk of being denied for financial assistance would be reduced.

However, if denied financial aid for whatever reason, you want to start working on the appeal process immediately while taking great care to follow the provided instructions exact.  More than likely, you will be on a tight schedule in trying to get funding approval so entering college is not delayed so even a small oversight could prove to be costly.

Remember, if you needed guidance at any time during the appeals phase, someone in the financial aid office at the college or university could offer assistance.  Although disheartening to receive notification of financial aid being denied, you want to remain calm and focused.  Being denied financial aid is a serious matter, regardless of the reason.  Therefore, no matter how trivial the reason seems to you, perhaps a problem with your residence, improper filing of the FAFSA, or something else, do not wait to get started on filing your appeal.

To begin, obtain a copy of the college or university’s policy for appealing the case so you have a clear understanding of the right path to take.  Then, find a quiet place without interruptions where you can sit down to read the letter, as well as details regarding the reason or reasons for denial.  As an example, let us say the financial aid advisory board denied your request because they felt you had other means of finances.

Although your request for assistance was because you needed help financially to attend college, telling that to the financial aid advisory board would result in information falling on deaf ears.  Instead, you would need to provide a valid reason for requesting financial assistance.  For instance, being laid off from a job, dealing with a major illness that resulted in a pile of medical bills, or facing some other form of emergency would be considered a viable appeal.  Then to substantiate your claims, the appeal’s board would require proof in the form of documentation such as a letter from your employer about the layoff, medical statements, and so on.

Your initial contact with the financial aid advisory board should be in the form of a brief letter of the official appeals form.  When writing a letter, keep it brief and concise.  Additionally, check with the financial aid office at the college or university to make sure the letter or form is being sent to the appropriate location, as well as individual.  Along with the letter or appeals form, supporting documentation would be included.  Depending on the school, reason for denial, and the board itself, a final decision may be made from the information you provided but other times, the board would schedule an in-person meeting.

Many times, by providing a good explanation and having all the appropriate documentation in order, the decision would be reversed in your favor to receive the needed financial aid although there are times when the appeal’s board sticks to their decision for denial.  As a final note, we wanted to offer a few key pieces of advice.  First, always keep a copy of the letter or appeals form, as well as supporting documentation for your records.  Second, if you need assistance in getting everything prepared, never be afraid to ask.  Again, someone in the financial aid office or even a college counselor would be extremely helpful.  Third, stay on top of any correspondence received so you can respond expeditiously.

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