Based on how you filled out the FAFSA, the government, and the school you applied to decided that you needed a certain amount of money. However, there are some circumstances where you actually qualify for more money and should absolutely submit an “appeal” to the Financial Aid Office at your college.
Hint: If the answer is YES! to any of the circumstances listed below, you should definitely submit an appeal. When you’re ready to appeal, we recommend using SwiftStudent!
Death in the family
If someone in your immediate family passed away in the last year, that means you’ve lost a parent or guardian’s income, and this can dramatically change your family’s finances. You may qualify for a Special Circumstances Appeal because the FAFSA did not capture the financial difficulty that you are now facing.
Serious illness or disability can result in big medical bills. If your family had to cover large medical bills over the past year, you may qualify for an Emergency Aid Appeal. Due to COVID-19, new emergency financial aid from the CARES Act may be available.
Divorce or separation
If your parents got divorced or separated since they submitted their 2019 taxes and this has affected your family’s ability to pay for college, you may qualify for a Parental Income Exclusion Request or a Special Circumstances Appeal.
Lost a job or source of income
If someone in your immediate family lost their job and was out of work for a significant period of time in the past year, you may qualify for a Special Circumstances or Emergency Aid Appeal. (This also includes being laid off, a reduction in work hours, loss of job due to retirement, and loss of job due to incarceration.)
If your family has lost income from a rental property, alimony, or court settlement, this would also be grounds for an appeal.
Grandparent or other dependent moved in
If a grandparent or other relative moved into your home in the past year and your family is now covering the majority of their expenses, you may qualify for a Special Circumstances or Emergency Aid Appeal.
Any other circumstances that impact you or your family’s finances
Check out SwiftStudent for additional circumstances that may change your financial situation, making you eligible to apply for an appeal…For example:
- How do I ask for additional help if I have a financial emergency related to COVID-19?
- How do I ask for more financial aid if my financial situation changes after I fill out the FAFSA?
- How do I ask for financial aid to cover a computer or other supplies that I need for school?
- How do I ask for financial aid to cover my child care costs?
- How do I ask for financial aid to cover expenses associated with my disability?
Research the appeal process
Here are some things to know about the process of appealing:
- Every school has a different appeal process but in general, you will need to submit a written letter and some proof of your family’s special circumstance. To find instructions for how to appeal, google the name of your school plus the words “appeal financial aid” or call the school’s Financial Aid Office
- Appeals are not guaranteed. They are reviewed on a case-by-case basis by someone in the Financial Aid Office
- If your appeal is approved, you could be awarded more grants, more work-study, or more student-friendly loans
- Don’t wait! Submit your appeal as soon as possible, because it will take time to gather the documents you need, and will likely take weeks for the school to process the appeal
Hint: It’s important to write a strong appeal letter with good proof of your special circumstances. SwiftStudent provides templates for appeal letters that you can download, edit, and send to your school’s financial aid office.
Follow up on your appeal letter
Tracking your appeal letter is your responsibility. After you send your appeal letter online or via email, be sure to follow up with a phone call to confirm they received it.
Questions you can ask when you follow up:
- “Did you receive my appeal letter? Can you confirm the date that it was received?”
- “Approximately how long will it be before I hear a response? How will you tell me the results, via email, online, or a phone call?”
- “I would like to check in on the status in 2-3 weeks. Who should I reach out to, and what is their title, email, and phone number?”
- “Are there any other options available to me if my appeal is denied?”