How to Write a Financial Aid Appeal Letter

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Financial aid, including student loans, can help students pay for higher education. But sometimes the financial aid award letter from a school doesn’t match the amount that a student needs to pay for college. When that happens, you can write a letter to appeal the financial aid offered, detailing your reasons for the appeal.

Here’s when it may make sense to appeal a financial aid package and how to write a financial aid appeal letter:

When to appeal your financial aid award

This depends on the school’s process, so make sure you confirm its deadlines — as well as any federal deadlines — to ensure you don’t miss your chance to make an appeal.

Here are some situations when it makes sense to appeal your financial aid award:

  • You made an error on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). An error on your FAFSA could lead to a lower aid amount.
  • Your family’s financial situation has changed. A recent medical diagnosis or job loss may mean your family finances look a lot different than when you initially completed the FAFSA.
  • You’re going through a divorce. Married students may experience financial hardships and a drop in household income during or after a divorce. A parent getting divorced can also cause financial issues.
  • Your parent or legal guardian dies. The death of a parent or legal guardian can affect your finances significantly.
  • You have an ongoing financial commitment. The FAFSA doesn’t initially take certain ongoing financial commitments into account, such as paying medical expenses for a disabled child.
  • You’ve added a new family member to the household. If you welcome a new family member after submitting the FAFSA, you may want to appeal as your household finances have likely changed.
  • You’re facing significant physical or mental health challenges. Both of these situations can make it difficult to pay your way through school.

Check Out: Independent vs. Dependent Student: Which Are You?

How to write a financial aid appeal letter

You can connect with your school’s financial aid office to find out what guidelines they have for appealing a financial aid package. For example, the appeal may need to be in a certain format or have specific supporting documentation attached.

A financial aid appeal letter is generally most effective if it contains the following information:

  • Detailed reasons for appealing: Begin your letter with your reason for writing the appeal. Make this clear, transparent, and succinct.
  • Amount and date of the award: Include information about when you received the award and how much it was for.
  • A polite request: Politely request that the financial aid office reconsider your initial award amount.
  • How much more aid you need: Explain how much more money you need to attend school and what expenses that money would cover.
  • Request for a match: If another school you were accepted to is offering a larger financial aid package, you can request your school to match that amount. Back up your request by detailing your desire to attend the school more than the other institution.
  • Thank the school for its consideration: You can end your letter by thanking the financial aid officer for taking the time to review and consider your appeal.

Learn More: How to Compare Financial Aid Award Letters

Sample financial aid appeal letter

If you’re not sure where to begin, you can use this sample financial aid appeal letter and adapt it to meet your needs:


Financial Aid Appeal Committee

[Name of School]

Office of Financial Aid

Dear Financial Aid Appeal Committee,

I am writing this letter to appeal the financial aid offer I received. I received an offer of $12,000 in grants and $15,000 in federal student loans for a total award amount of $27,000. The amount I need to cover my education expenses this year is $40,000 and I am requesting an increased amount of student loan or gift aid to cover that remaining $13,000.

Since completing and submitting the FAFSA, my family encountered unexpected financial hardship. My mother was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer and can no longer work due to the demands of her treatment. As such, we won’t be able to pay the remaining amount of money I need to attend [insert name of college] out of pocket.

My family and I would be so grateful if I could receive an increased aid amount of $13,000 to help me afford the costs of attending school this year.

Thank you so much for spending the time to review my appeal and consider it.


[Your name]

Sample financial aid appeal letter for bad grades

If your financial aid was revoked due to unsatisfactory academic progress, you can appeal that decision with a letter. Here’s an example:


Financial Aid Appeal Committee

[Name of School]

Office of Financial Aid

Dear Financial Aid Appeal Committee,

I am writing this letter to appeal the decision to revoke my financial aid offer due to unsatisfactory academic progress.

My grades suffered during the last academic year after my mother was diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer. The severity of her diagnosis was an unexpected shock to our family and caused a great amount of emotional and financial toll. During this difficult time for my family, I found it hard to focus on the demands of my school work.

My mother is now in treatment and I have begun attending therapy to help cope with the stress of her diagnosis, which I believe will make it easier for me to focus on my school work. I also scaled back on campus activities so I could have more time to focus on academics. Finally, I engaged a tutor to help me better understand the course material I struggled with last year.

It is my hope that taking these steps will make it possible for me to attend school with a renewed focus. I attached supporting documentation that confirms my mother’s diagnosis, but please let me know if you require any other documentation.

My family and I would be so grateful if I could have my financial aid package reinstated. Thank you so much for spending the time to review my appeal and consider it.


[Your name]

Following these templates doesn’t guarantee a positive or negative outcome, but they should be able to help you narrow your focus and articulate your appeal when submitting your letter.

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Keep Learning: EFC: How Your Expected Family Contribution Affects Financial Aid

About the author
Jacqueline DeMarco
Jacqueline DeMarco

Jacqueline DeMarco has been a personal finance writer for over seven years and is a contributor to Credible. She has contributed content to more than a dozen financial brands, including LendingTree, Credit Karma, Fundera, Chime, MagnifyMoney, Student Loan Hero, ValuePenguin, SoFi, and Northwestern Mutual.

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