College decision time is here and appealing the financial aid award letter may be part of this process. For some students, the award letter received did not match their financial need. The big question is who should appeal the financial aid award letter and can it be revised?
Depending on the family situation, appealing the financial aid award letter may be the next step in the college process. A family will need to call the financial aid office to verify the exact process the school uses. Depending on the college, it could be a formal form that needs to be completed or just a letter that needs to be written. Whichever the process, the same information will need to be explained.
It is my opinion that the appeal letter should be short and to the point. A family will need to justify with hard financial facts the reasons for this appeal. For this reason I always suggest that my clients include any financial numbers that have changed. Helping the appeal reader with the amount of the adjustment is especially helpful when submitting your appeals.
There can be several reasons why to appeal the award letter. Specifically, the family will need to list any changes in the family’s ability to help financially with the college tuition. These are changes that have occurred since filing the FAFSA. Some of these reasons would include:
- Parent losing a job or reduction of income
- Unexpected Medical expenses
- Death of a parent
- A one-time increase in family’s income
- Support of an elderly parent
A family should be prepared for the financial aid office to request further documentation to support their request. Third-party documentation of this adjusted income should be available to support the financial aid award appeal. This process may take several weeks but if approved the family would receive a revised financial aid award letter.
The actual line comparison of the financial aid award letters can often be confusing due to the different formats of the various colleges. If a family is overwhelmed and needs an east actual award letter comparison in one place then a good place to start would be with the EFC PLUS senior tool. Families are able to input their financial aid award letter and the senior tool will calculate a projected four-year cost of the college. The system then sorts the colleges by net price so that families can see which school will be the most expensive.
Remember, to review the retention and graduation rates of the college. This is part of the data comparison found in the senior tool. The goal is to look at the net cost to graduation. When you consider these additional factors, the sticker price and the net cost could be very different.
Good luck to all the students making their college decision! Remember, this college decision involves both subjective and financial variables. Focusing on the outcome of the education is most important.