How to Write a Successful Financial Aid Application

Most small business owners pursue higher education for professional development or to fulfill a lifelong dream. Others have dependants who are in college. If your award for a federal student loan was unsatisfactory, you can appeal. You may also request a review if your income has reduced significantly in the recent past. This article articulates a strategy for writing a successful financial appeal. 

Determine your level of financial need

Before you apply for financial aid, first do a comprehensive assessment of all the costs of education. The cost varies with college, meaning that you have to calculate the expenses for the specific school that has admitted you. Similarly, the cost of certificate courses differs from that of degree programs. When calculating the costs, consider all the expenses, including tuition, extra charges, accommodation, books, and transport costs. 

Most financial aid offices use the Expected Family Contribution method to determine the amount of financing you need relative to the tuition and overall cost of attending college. You can calculate your level of need using the ‘net price calculator’ on the official website of the college you are joining or the FAFSA4caster on the federal student aid website. Fill in information about your family income, and you will get a rough estimate of the amount of the financial aid options you can get.

 What is the maximum income to qualify for financial aid

The financing agencies do not put an income limit beyond which an applicant cannot get financial assistance. Students who are not needy may still qualify for other types of support, depending on their status. For instance, both undergraduate and graduate student qualify for Direct Unsubsidized and Direct PLUS loans irrespective of their economic status.

Moreover, even if your family makes hundreds of thousands of dollars annually, you could still qualify for aid. The mediating factors include the high cost of tuition or having other siblings in college. Therefore, all students should fill FAFSA forms irrespective of their family income. 

Understand the protocols

Every institution has guidelines on how students should fill the financial aid application. Therefore, research about these protocols and consult the relevant authorities before drafting the appeal letter. For instance, some colleges will ask you to fill an appeal form and attach it to the appeal letter. You can browse the college website for guidelines or call the financial aid office for further clarification on the appeal process. 

Address the recipient personally 

As with any formal letter, the rules of courtesy apply to financial appeals. Take time to know the name of the person who will receive the letter by checking on the website or visiting the financial aid office. Use the recipient’s name, including titles in the address and the body of the application. Your tone should be personal but respectful. Further, make sure that the content flows with clear transitions and coherent prose. 

Use emotional appeal

Even though the appeal letter is a cry for help, it needs not to be a lamentation about your problems. You can spice it up with gratitude for the acceptance at a prestigious learning institution and thank them for the financial aid and other support they have provided. You can also include a short note of excitement from your parents or spouse for joining the institution. 

Clarify who you want to help

Loans and financial support come from colleges, states, and the federal government. Therefore, you should distinguish which institution you want to assist you. If it is the income details on the FAFSA form that has changed, you should seek federal assistance. Similarly, appeals for merit aid should address the school authority responsible for such financial aid award. The letter should include performance details such as sports accomplishments and GPA scores to show that you deserve consideration. Merit aid requests are sent to the college admission office for review. 

Be candid 

When explaining the reason for your appeal, elaborate on why the financial aid is not enough or the circumstances that force you to seek financial assistance. Experts advise students to provide a clear list of the issues affecting their income and how they affect their ability to cover college costs. One way of making the concerns highly visible is creating a bullet list followed by details on how each issue affects your income.

This makes it easy for college administrators to connect the claim to the evidence. Some of the concerns that may earn their sympathy include: 

• The death of a parent or spouse. 

• Loss of employment.

• Divorce or separation. 

• Loss of child support.

• Major events that disrupt normal economic activities.

 • Significant medical expenses.

 • Major costs that were omitted when filling the FAFSA form.

• Being a special needs student.

• Caring for a child, spouse, or other relatives with a disability.

Provide documents 

Thousands of students make financial appeals every year. Therefore, for the eligibility requirements, you should attach documents to reinforce your claim and increase your chances of consideration. Students who submit relevant documents stand a better chance of success than those who send letters only. Experts assert that the most credible attachments are those that are obtained from reputable third parties. For instance, if you have recently lost employment, you can submit a copy of the Termination Letter or W-2s, indicating a significant loss of income. 

Similarly, you may include documentary evidence of students who had similar scores but got better consideration by other colleges when making a merit appeal. If you do not have official financial aid information substantiating your claim, you should be resourceful in getting supporting evidence. For example, you can obtain affirmative letters from reputable entities such as community housing organizations and insurance agencies. Such letters stand a better chance of consideration than mere narratives or letters from family members. 

Letter delivery

After gathering all the documents, you can submit the letter together with the attachment to the relevant department. Most colleges require applicants to send through certified mail to the financial aid office. They will send you a delivery confirmation to certify that they have received your letter. 

Follow up 

After submitting your appeal, you should check the university website for updates. You should also check your email frequently for messages responding to the request. To finish this financial aid process, if you don’t hear from them after several weeks, email the recipient and inquire about the status of your appeal. Remember to attach a copy of the original letter so that they can trace it with ease for the eligibility.

FAQ

What is the meaning of financial aid?

Financial aid has the most general meaning as the money that is given by any program to help with college fees. So, financial aid programs help with the overall educational expenses, like the costs of scholarships, tuition, housing fees, textbook costs, employment scholarship, business support, and more. Education is an unbreakable right, no matter the college, no matter the money, almost any student can qualify for this help if they are willing to get it, nothing will stop the prospective students from wanting it. Such aid is considered a kind of state or federal financial aid as it can come from any fund source, state, local government, college, professional institutions, private charities, and many others.

What is the best type of financial aid?

Grants, refers to financial support given that is not returnable. It is usually awarded depending on financial hardship.

Work-Study job, refers to a source of federal financial assistance that is used to offset the costs of education. It is also known as student employment, as students attend college and work to earn money. Additionally, they do not pay back the aid.

Loans, these are funds borrowed which must be repaid-with interest. These are generally a more favorable term and a more attractive interest rate than traditional consumer loans.

Scholarships, this is referred to as merit scholarships which are normally based on academic as well as an athletic performance of the student. Several organizations are known to offer scholarships, such as colleges, community organizations, and private institutions as well. These scholarships are not restituted either.

How do you check your financial aid refund?

Undergraduate students have financial aid opportunities, but there are times when this student financial aid comes too much. The students have the option of asking for a refund check for the same financial aid in case there’s any money left over after they pay the tuition. Plus, during this process, they can check to see how it’s going and where they are in the process. In order to see if you have to go to the college‘s financial aid office, before this you need to have a series of requirements such as social security number, tax status, FSA ID, and marital status. However, you can also visit the IRS Get My Payment website and see all the options it offers. If it tells you that your payment status is not available, or that you have not completed the process or have not met the requirements.

Can undocumented students get financial aid?

We must know and understand, when it comes to financial aid for any undocumented students, the financial aid eligibility answers it is quite negative. If there is an undocumented student, he or she will nog be eligible to submit to this administration. To sum up, in many states of America, undocumented students, and also the DACA students, can not be legally qualified for receiving any federal student fund and aid at all. This applies to loans, work-study funds, grants, and also scholarships. Nevertheless, they can give it a try for state or college financial aid qualification, also in private scholarships too.

Does financial aid refund count as income?

A loan is not considered income because it is borrowed money that has to be paid back, therefore, not subject to taxes. However, this depends on the financial institution and the type of loan because then it would be taxable. If you are using financial aid and working towards your college degree, the loan will not be taxed. But if you are in a work-study program and you apply for financial aid, it will count as income. As mentioned earlier, it all depends on the financial institution or financial aid package, and in many cases, it may count as income as it does not. But what really matters is that the money you borrow goes toward the reason you are applying for the loan, but what really matters is that the money you borrow goes toward the reason you’re borrowing, whether that’s for eligible students or whether you’re a continuing student or graduate student, if you are looking to finish your studies, by paying for it you will have less weight and you will be able to make satisfactory academic progress.