5 Powerful Things to Say in a Financial Aid Appeal

You can save thousands of dollars per year on the cost of college if you take the time to appeal for more financial aid. If the situation fits, here are 5 compelling reasons to give a college why you’re appealing for more aid.

Reason 1: A Comparable College Offered You More Money

Colleges enrollments are down. Colleges want the students they’ve admitted to attend and they’re ready to negotiate. 

The best strategy for increasing your financial aid package is to show a college that another school with similar acceptance rates offered you more money. First, it’s important to compare college offers. Putting your out-of-pocket cost for each college in a grid is a useful way to organize offers. Then, appeal for more financial aid.

Reason 2: Your Family’s Financial Situation has Changed

A negative change in your financial picture is always an important reason to appeal for more money. Significant out of pocket medical expenses or a separation, divorce or death of a spouse are good reasons to appeal. If you’ve experienced a pandemic-related loss of income or if it’s looming, e.g. you’ve been notified that your company will be laying off employees in the coming months, you’re in an even better position to negotiate for more aid.

Everyone can appeal their financial aid package, but those facing income or job loss have even more leverage

Reason 3: Your EFC is Higher than the College’s NPC Estimate

You can’t always rely on a college’s net price calculator (NPC) to give you an accurate Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If the EFC on your award letter is higher than the college’s calculator initially indicated, you should ask for more money. 

First calculate your net cost, aka out-of- pocket cost by finding the cost of attendance on your award letter and subtracting your gift aid from it to get your out of pocket cost. Then, indicate the amount of money your family will need to attend the college.

A tool like MeritMore’s free Compare Offers and Appeal Letters tool does an apples to apples comparison of all your financial aid offers, including your estimated 1-year and 4-year year out-of-pocket costs.

Reason 4: You Entered Incorrect Information on the FAFSA

Mistakes happen. Unfortunately, if you’ve made a mistake on your FAFSA it can cost you. The good news is you can correct your FAFSA. Let your college of interest know what happened in your appeal letter and show them supporting documentation to make your case. 

Fortunately, there’s also good information online that will take you through the steps of writing an effective appeal letter.

Reason 5: You Provide Regular Financial Support for Family Members

Helping to pay for the care of elderly parents or extended family members or paying school fees for other children is common for many families. Write an appeal letter to the college and provide documentation for these costs.  

Financial aid officers need facts and figures to make a decision about increasing financial aid. Make sure you include any paperwork that will support your appeal.

If you don’t ask for more money, you won’t get more money. 


Appealing your financial aid package won’t impact you negatively. In fact, it’s one of the most important steps in the process of making your final decision about which college you’ll attend.  A smart consumer always tries to find the best deal possible and you should too. You can find step by step instructions on how to appeal for more financial aid online. While appeals aren’t always successful, don’t self-select yourself out of getting more money simply by deciding not to ask.

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