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Can I appeal financial aid decisions?

Last updated: 
December 15, 2023

You can appeal private school financial aid decisions but understand that schools put a lot of time and consideration into granting financial assistance packages that meet demonstrated need. The school based the initial offer on your provided financial information and their available funding. 

For a favorable appeal, families typically have to present new information that wasn’t in the application or have experienced an unexpected financial hardship after applying, such as a loss of employment or an illness. 

However, you won’t know the appeal outcome unless you ask. Follow these steps to make a financial aid appeal:

1. Contact the school’s financial aid office immediately. 

Ask what the school’s process is for financial aid appeals, and don’t delay reaching out. Everything evolves rapidly during the admissions decision phase, and the school likely has a deadline for appeals. You don’t want to miss the opportunity if additional funding is available.

2. Write a financial appeal letter.

The school will likely require a formal appeal letter. What should you write in a financial aid appeal letter?

  • Thank the school for its consideration and initial financial aid award.
  • Clearly and concisely explain why you believe your family requires additional assistance.
  • Disclose pertinent financial information missing from the initial application and new circumstances that arose after applying.
  • Provide documentation (medical bills, tax returns, layoff notices, etc.) that support your appeal.
  • Express your commitment to enroll if financially feasible for your family.

It’s also important to understand that the appeal process is not a bidding war. Each school has its own financial aid budget dispersed per its unique pool of applicants. Disclosing an award from another school is unlikely to help your appeal and is generally frowned upon.

3. Stay vigilant of deadlines.

Ask the school if they have a set date for appeal decisions and weigh this against the enrollment deadlines of other schools. As much as you want everything to work out at your top-choice school, you also don’t want to jeopardize an enrollment opportunity at another great school where the enrollment expense is a better fit for your family’s financial situation.

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