Changes in the national and global economy have impacted the experience of attending college and university programs. Many future college students are worried about what their future means. Here’s everything you should know about asking for additional aid and what kinds of assistance are out there.
Why Students May Need More Aid
One reason a student may need to apply for additional aid is that family finances have changed for many households due to job changes or total job loss, which means that a students’ FAFSA application may no longer reflect accurately on their or their parents’ standing. CNBC reports that 178,000 students who had previously filed a FAFSA did not return for the 2020/2021 school year, primarily due to financial concerns. Another reason is that students are often part of the gig economy, performing service jobs like waiting tables, bartending, nannying, or driving for Uber or Lyft. These jobs have been much more heavily impacted by COVID-19 than established office jobs.
When to Appeal for More Financial Aid
- Your Financial Situation Has Changed: If your own situation or your family’s financial situation has drastically changed during the pandemic from the last-filed FAFSA, you may resubmit.
- Human Error: If it comes to light that you or someone filing on your behalf made an error in filing a FAFSA or any other appeal for aid, you have a right to try again.
- Competing Schools: If you are just beginning college and a comparable school offers you a higher reward than the one you prefer to attend, you can appeal to that school to match. Keep in mind that they do not match based on merit or if the schools are not similar in size, rank, and reputation.
How to Appeal for More Aid
Resubmitting a FAFSA is a good start, but it does not take into account specific and personal details of a family’s financial situation. Communicate directly to the college or university’s financial aid office through phone calls and emails or by writing an appeals letter. Use personal details of life circumstances, such as job loss, legal fees, or significant medical bills. Tell your story. However, it is important to include documents that back it up. “Financial aid offices are audited by the Department of Education and need to keep documentation in their file. They love documentation,” said Shannon Vasconcelos, director of college finance at Bright Horizons College Coach in an article from CNBC.
A Few Additional Tips
- If you are considering a transfer and have adequate grades, remember that private institutions often give higher financial aid rewards because of the desire to fill spots.
- Back up personal stories in appeals letters with detailed documents.
- Emailing financial aid offices is often more effective than calling.
- Reassess eligibility for the Pell Grant if your family’s income is now less than 50k annually.
- Follow up. Demand for additional aid is high. Don’t be afraid to keep reaching out.
It comes as no surprise that the pandemic has impacted essentially every household in America. Even those who have not lost jobs, wages or other regular streams of income have had to make social and financial changes.