Financial Aid Award Appeal Letter | Samples with Special Circumstances | Institutional Appeals
Basic Guidelines When Constructing Your Financial Aid Appeal Letter
5 Appeal Sample Letters Below
1. If you can deliver the letter in person.
2. Locate the proper Financial Aid Officer so you can address the letter to that person.
3. Check the school’s websites to both understand and follow their appeal process.
4. Make sure you understand if the financial aid offer is fair based upon the historical performance of the college (Percentage of Need Met), your student’s profile compared to the school’s freshman profile, then measure the results.
If you are currently in college we look at some other issues.
If the results are out of balance you always have a valid reason to appeal regardless of whether there are additional “special circumstances”. Our software calculates this information.
In addition you must determine whether you are appealing for more federal money or institutional money. Federal money has more regulations as to what reasons warrant a successful appeal, see # 5 below.
Strategy Alert: Unfortunately this is one of many mistakes that occur with “do-it-yourself” appeals that result in unsuccessful results.
5. The Financial Aid Office can exercise “Professional Judgment” granted by Higher Education Act Section 479(a)[“HEA”] which can award you more financial assistance.
Strategy Alert: The HEA law does not allow Financial Aid Administrator (“FAA”) to change the formula or the tables used in the EFC calculation. There are only two components in the FAFSA EFC calculation that the FAA is permitted to modify when exercising professional judgment.
Let’s Determine If We Can Help You?… One Client Shares
“I contacted Jim to discuss the appeal process and asked what he thought my chances would be. He is very knowledgeable about effective appeal approaches. What really sold me was when he explained that Financial Aid Officers are very fair. They have compassion but they follow regulatory requirements when they make decisions. Jim is an excellent Coach, I am very satisfied with the results, almost 40% more money, more grants than loans. – Sophia H., Arizona
“Appealing Financial Aid Awards,
You Will Never Get An Answer Unless You Ask”
Contact Me For Help for Your Situation
OR, if you are going to write your own letter then I highly suggest you check out the e-Book below. These letters below contain “reasons for special circumstances”
The letters do not explain the methodology of the process, so at best you are “Guessing”.
Do you want to take the Risk of Guessing?
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 years.
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, John’s 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 company’s 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 family’s actual ability to contribute to Julie’s education. The disability payment has to provide care for the rest of John’s 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 Julie’s 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 school’s 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 Gil’s 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 employer’s part is a one-time event and will not be repeated in 2013.
I no longer receive child support from Gil’s biological father because he turned 18 years five months ago. This reduces our family income by $8,400. On top of that I asked Gil’s 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 son’s 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.
Gil’s 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.
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 family’s income included three very unusual one-time income events.
- A one-time bonus of $95,000 granted in 2013 that will not be awarded in 2014 or any year thereafter.
- A paper transaction without constructive receipt of the money resulting in taxable income of $38,500 from an irrevocable trust.
- A book-only income entry from a non-participatory S corporation in the amount of $22,600.
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 daughter’s 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 it’s 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 daughter’s future.
EFC Reduction | Two Students in College
Appeal Letter # 4 Institutional Appeal
Ms. Karen Smith
Financial Aid Officer
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 Heath’s 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 year’s 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 student’s 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.
Appeal Letter #5 Institutional Appeal
Mr. Lionel Anderson
Director of Financial Aid
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 University’s) Award Letter per our recent telephone conversation. We discussed our family’s 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 University’s) award shows, other schools have committed substantially more money to Heather’s 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 Stanford’s award as an economically viable alternative. However, Heather would prefer to attend Anywhere University. If there is any way you can increase Heather’s 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 Heather’s future.
Or, call 817-600-0576.