When it comes to paying for college, most people assume that the financial aid offer a school gives you is set in stone. We’ll let you in on a little secret: it isn’t.
The price of college isn’t set in stone and neither is the financial aid that you received in the mail. If something has changed with your financial situation, or you feel that your student should've received more financial aid then they did, a college planning advisor can help you start the financial aid appeals process. This process can be overwhelming, so working with a college planning advisor who has experience can go a long way to making the process more manageable and getting you the best results.
There are many reasons for writing appeals but the main one is that the aid package was smaller than expected, putting a greater financial burden on your family. An advisor will examine the offers and help determine if you have a case for an appeal and will start to formulate a game plan.
#1 - A College Planning Advisor will help you understand your options
As part of a comprehensive college plan, an advisor can help you navigate the appeals process. They have experience with different colleges and universities and can tell you if appealing at your schools is worth your time and effort. An advisor will be able to guide you when an appeal letter would be appropriate depending on your specific situation. They can help evaluate different scenarios such as:
Multiple offers: If the student has been accepted to a variety of colleges and has received a larger aid package, they can help you reach out to the other schools and see if they will match it.
More than one child attending college: Families with more than one student enrolling in college might have a better chance for more financial aid.
Exceptional merit: Students with high GPAs, involvement in honor societies, and other volunteer activities could be eligible for more aid on the grounds of being an excellent addition to the campus/university.
Unforeseen incident: While more broad, this could be anything from a loss of income to increased medical bills, to the death of a parent, or any other natural disaster. Should this befall you, you would be eligible to appeal your aid package.
An error on your original document: If an error was made, your advisor can help guide you to write an appeal to correct that error.
As you can see, several scenarios warrant writing and sending in a financial aid appeal letter. This is an important step in the college planning process and one that can be extremely beneficial to you in the long run. The important thing here is that you know that this is an option for you and an advisor can clearly walk you through the process.
#2 - A College Planning Advisor can help set-up a timeline
Once you know that you want to start the appeals process, your advisor will help you create a timeline for writing and sending in the letter. There are a few key points to keep in mind.
The earlier the better: Schools don’t have a well of financial aid that they can dip into to fulfill every request, so you must send in an appeal letter as soon as possible. This can be done as you are working to analyze the offer letters. As soon as you and your advisor both see a discrepancy, you can start walking through options for appeals.
Call ahead: Each school’s appeals process will look slightly different. Your advisor can help you contact the right department and make sure you have the right email or physical address to send the letter as well as the correct contact information.
Don’t forget about supporting documents: Your advisor can help you put together the right documents to try to appeal based on your child’s merit.
#3 - A College Planning Advisor can provide a blueprint for writing the appeal letter
Once you work with an advisor to devise a strategy, they can help you make your case in the appeals letter. Here are some best practices to keep in mind:
Keep it short and sweet
Be honest and authentic
Provide adequate supporting documentation
Have a clear ask
Ensure the writing is clear, concise, and grammatically correct.
Financial aid is a crucial component of your college plan. To maximize it, you might need help to get you through the financial aid appeals process. By being proactive about your aid package, you can save thousands of dollars and minimize the amounts you take out in loans.
Proactive college planning is all about leveraging available resources to improve your financial outlook. This is where a college planning advisor can really help you get the best price at the college your student would like to attend. If you would like to speak with an advisor to see how they can help you develop an appeals strategy, schedule a call with our team today!
Mike Bink, AAMS®, CCFS®
Mike works with families to simplify the college funding process and is widely recognized as an expert in college planning. He is passionate about empowering families to become informed consumers of higher education so that they don't pay a penny more for college than they absolutely have to.