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Paying For College - Head Matters


7. After the FAFSA

b. Financial aid appeals

If the FAFSA does not accurately reflect your family’s financial health, you may appeal your financial aid award.There are several reasons you might choose to appeal and your financial aid office wants to help you as much as they can. If you think you may want to appeal, get in touch with the financial aid offices at each college you are considering as soon as you can.

If families are facing a hardship, such as a job loss, death in the family, excessive medical expenses or other unique financial situations that are not accurately reflected by the FAFSA, they may write a letter to the college/university outlining their circumstances. Families need to work closely with the financial aid office at each school to which their student applies to be sure they include the necessary documentation to accurately reflect their situation. Financial aid professionals have the ability to take a family’s unique circumstances into account when awarding financial aid – this process is referred to as “professional judgment”.

Financial aid administrators may use Professional Judgment to adjust either the Cost of Attendance or Expected Family Contribution for a student based on independent special circumstances that may affect the families’ ability to pay education expenses or the amount of education expenses. Students may request an adjustment by providing a detailed explanation and relevant documentation to the financial aid office.

Appeals should be submitted as early as possible in the financial aid process, if possible, in January of the student’s senior year in high school or the January before they are planning to begin college. This will allow colleges time to accurately process the financial aid award.

Each college and university has their preferred method for students and families to submit a financial aid appeal. Please consult your college/university financial aid office prior to beginning your appeal. You will need to provide separate documentation to each financial aid office for each school to which a student applies for admission:
  • Appeal form – many schools have a specific form they will require you to submit – check school’s financial aid website.
  • Letter – outline as specifically as possible how your family’s financial health has been impacted. It’s extremely important to provide exact numbers with accompanying documentation.

Income Appeal/Job Loss
In addition, to the information above, families will need to provide the following in the event of income or job loss:
  • Pay Stubs
  • Termination Notice
  • Notice of Income Decrease
  • Unemployment  Documents
  • Taxes
  • Severance Documents (if applicable)

Excessive Medical Expenses
In addition, to the information above, families will need to provide the following in the event of excessive medical bills:
  • Taxes
  • Explanation of Benefit Statements
  • Copy of Payments
  • Prescription Receipts
  • Insurance Coverage Statements
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