Can You Appeal Your Financial Aid Offer?

Can You Appeal Your Financial Aid Offer?

YES!   It is not only possible; but, in some cases, recommended.  A couple thousand dollars may not sound like much when you are looking at the overall college expense, but it is still real money…your money.

Colleges do NOT like to negotiate…so find a better approach. Do not even mention the negative word “negotiate”.  You will likely be met with heavy resistance.  However, the schools are highly concerned with filling all available seats and may make a concession in order to get your commitment.  Hint – look at how much marketing the colleges level at students: the expensive and beautiful brochures, the constant mailed letters, the email campaigns, and the billboards and commercials.   There are some schools who consistently have an overabundance of applicants; but many good institutions are battling to fill their enrollment numbers.

Each university has its own process for handling appeals, and your likelihood of success varies by school and situation.   Public universities are less pliable and often will not budge from their formulas.  The exception to this is when you have a special situation or hardship such as a job loss, divorce, death, illness, or significant disruption in income.  Private colleges, on the other hand, have more flexibility and may offer you a better chance of success with your appeal.

Here are some suggestions on how to approach your appeal:

  • Review each school’s appeal policy for required forms, procedures, and deadlines
  • Always write your appeal clearly and concisely
  • The parent(s) AND the student should both write an appeal
    • Parents should focus on the financial
    • Students should detail their resume highlighting recent awards/accomplishments, improved grades, and their strong desire to attend the institution
  • Appeal to both the financial aid office and the admissions office
  • Find the appropriate contacts and personally address the letter to a person

The appeals process is certainly not cut and dried.  There are situations where you can make some progress, and it’s certainly worth a try.  As Wayne Gretzky used to say, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”


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