Financial Aid Appeal Letter

Due to the FAFSA delay issues, this year’s Appeal process will be slightly different. We recommend getting a head start since the time to appeal will be shorter. This year, the financial aid offices will have limited resources to commit due to the timing and new process.

The hopeful scholarships and financial aid may not have reached the level of need you were expecting. Being organized and having a financial aid appeal letter strategy will improve your chances of success. This year’s financial aid process uses the income numbers from the 2022 tax year for the school year 2024-25. You should consider an appeal if your income has significantly changed from those numbers.

A Financial Aid Appeal letter should be sent if your family’s financial status has changed since your FAFSA submission. PayForED created a list of reasons for appealing your financial aid award letter and a sample letter titled “Financial Aid Appeal Letter.”

This article is a guide to help you with your college funding and student loan decisions. It is essential to have a good starting point since the first-year award will generally be the foundation of future awards.

Reasons for Financial Aid Appeal Letter

Several reasons or circumstances may warrant a review of your award letter. Specifically, the family must list any financial changes that will hurt their ability to pay that college’s tuition. Here are changes that may have occurred since filing the FAFSA.

Most of these events are due to a change in income or increased personal expenses. Some of the possible reasons include:

  • A parent losing a job or reduction of income
  • Unexpected medical expenses
  • Death of a parent
  • A one-time increase in the family’s income reflected in the FAFSA year (2022)
  • Support of an elderly parent
  • Damage due to natural disaster
  • Divorce or Separation

Steps in the Financial Aid Appeal Process

The first step is to contact the financial aid office. More colleges have created a formal electronic process, but each college is different. Each institution’s appeal process is unique, so it is important to identify the correct process and discover the right person who manages this process.

In your appeal letter, you must list specific information about the student. In addition to their name and address, a student ID or reference number may be listed on the acceptance or award letter. If available, that number should also be part of the appeal letter. You should try to find the relevant dates needed to process the appeal. Each school has its own method, and the deadlines could be different this year.

Most colleges have moved to electronic formats. While waiting for award letters, you should determine the school’s method and get organized.

Financial Aid Appeal Letter Structure

It is the family’s responsibility to justify any changes with financial facts. For this reason, I always suggest that families include any financial numbers that show the adjustments in their income when submitting their appeal. We recommend that your appeal letter be short, polite, and concise. This approach will help the reader during the appeal process.

The financial aid office may request further documentation to support your appeal request. This data should be third-party documentation of your income adjustments and help support your appeal.

One key document to have ready is the family’s most current tax return. Your current tax information was not used during your FAFSA completion due to Prior Prior. The current tax return may reflect changes in income and improve your chance of success.

Suppose you are considering appealing the financial award letter and filing your taxes on extension. In that case, completing your current tax return may be a good idea to support the appeal better. Having the current tax information will better support the appeal and recent changes.

This process may take several weeks to review, and if approved, the family will receive a revised financial aid award letter from the college. Under the new admission rules, this could go beyond traditional deadlines due to FAFSA delays. We recommend committing to at least one college by the commitment deadline. Colleges need to fill seats; if you do not commit, they may fill it with someone else. You can request an extension, but that may only allow a minimal time.

Professional Judgment Adjustment for Financial Aid Appeal

The financial appeal process has a specific name for the adjustments made by the financial aid office. The financial aid offices call it professional judgment. This refers to the ability of the college’s financial aid administrators to adjust a student’s federal aid application (FAFSA) based on special financial circumstances provided by the family.

The family must know it is a professional judgment at that specific college. Not all changes in financial circumstances will result in a positive financial adjustment at each college. Depending on the college, each result can be different and will be based on the college’s financial situation and the college’s need for each type of student.

Financial Aid Appeal Letter Sample

I will provide a specific family situation and a sample letter to help you better understand how to format your appeal letter.

Family situation:  A family filed taxes married/joint in the tax year 2022—the FAFSA base year for this year’s entering college freshman in 2024. One of the spouses was recently laid off.

There is now a loss of income of $70,000 per year. This family’s Federal (FAFSA) Student Aid Index (SAI) was $42,406 using the tax year 2022. If the college accepts the full impact of this job loss, it could result in an EFC change of approximately $31,000. This event could significantly change the student’s financial award letter.

Appeal Letter based on the above scenario:

Sample Financial Award Appeal Letter

(Attach any financial documents that warrant a review of your financial changes)

Financial Appeal Letter Conclusion

Contact the college to confirm their commitment date. If you are planning to appeal your financial aid award, start the process as soon as possible. As other students decline their offers, new college money may become available, which may result in a favorable financial outcome for you.

Ultimately, the college’s professional judgment will determine if your appeal request is successful. Providing the institution with the proper financial documents in a concise and easy-to-read appeal letter could be the key to your success. We are dedicated to helping families understand their award letters. The following PayForED articles break down the items in the award letter.


Should you need further help, PayForED has a list of financial advisers trained in College Funding and Student Loan Repayment.

Share this on
Search Posts

Stay current with us

Join our mailing list and we will periodically send you insightful information concerning the world of college financing. You will also receive our informative newsletter. We will never share your information with anyone.