Seniors, by now you have your acceptance letters and financial aid offers. As financial aid packages are not presented uniformly, it is essential to break down your offers and understand how much of your aid doesn’t have to be repaid, like grants and scholarships, and how much of your package is made up of loans which must be repaid. You should accept only the components that your family is comfortable with as your financial aid package is not an all or nothing offer. For example, you can accept grants and scholarships and decline the loans that don’t make sense for you. In order to compare aid offers from one school to another, try using the worksheet provided in The College Bound Organizer to help you decide which package is the best for you and your family.
If your decision depends on the aid package you were offered, the time to appeal is before the May 1st deposit deadline If your family’s financial situation has changed since you completed your FAFSA, share any new information in support of your appeal with your financial aid officer. Changes such as recent unemployment, medical expenses and a decrease in income may qualify you for more aid. In addition, if your package has too many loans and not enough gift aid, ask your rep to review your file again. Many colleges are open to increasing the amount of aid they offer.
Keep in mind the following when making your appeal:
- If your family’s financial circumstances have changed since you filled out your FAFSA that can help to make a credible appeal.
- If you have multiple admission offers, you can use that as a bargaining tool in your favor.
- If you received a more generous offer from another school, share that with the school you prefer.
- If you have a unique talent or skill or belong to a specific demographic group bring this to the attention of your financial aid officer when making your appeal.
- If you have very strong grades and test scores that may be a bargaining chip in your favor.
- Wait as close as possible to the May 1st response date to submit your decision to ensure you have received all of your final financial aid offers.
Your appeal letter needs to clearly convey why you are requesting an appeal. Ask you guidance counselor for help. Additionally, a great resource is SwiftStudent, a free online tool to help students file their financial aid appeals. This tool explains the appeal process and provides templates for you to use when writing your financial aid appeals letters to your colleges.