One of the most exciting parts of my role as a financial aid advisor is to be able to help a deserving family apply for additional aid. Many of the families that I work with are not fully aware of the financial aid appeal process, and are often happy to learn of their eligibility.
There are two main routes we explore for appeals: formal and informal. Formal appeals are generally referred to as special or extenuating circumstance appeals. On the other hand, informal appeals involve a request for additional aid based on merit, or additional expressed interest in one college over another (especially based on compared award packages).
Most colleges welcome additional information about students, their achievements, and their family circumstances. However, most students do not take the time and effort to report back to their college, and could be missing out on additional financial aid.
For prospective students, there is a small window of time when an improved test score or GPA, or a generous award from another university, could really make a difference in determining their financial aid packages for comparable colleges. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to receive the best aid packages from top-choice schools when trying to make the important decision of which to attend.
Luckily, the special circumstance appeal process is available to all students, and generally year-round. If a parent loses their job, or somebody in the family suddenly needs emergency surgery, the financial impact is not captured by the standard financial aid process. Usually, there are specific requirements for eligibility and guidelines in place for applying, but it doesn’t harm anything to at least let the college know.
College enrollment seems to be getting lower, while the competitiveness is always increasing. Find out if you’re eligible to submit an appeal, because, “if you don’t ask…” right?
Until Next Time,
Hope Santos, PES Financial Aid Director