If you’ve gotten into your dream school but they haven’t given you a generous financial aid package, you can write a financial aid appeal letter. I’m not sure how common financial aid appeal letters are, but every year, I draft them for about 20% of my clients or guide them through the process of appealing their financial aid package. One of my clients ended up receiving such a great financial aid package from Duke Sanford MPP program, that he was able to use his savings he had set aside for graduate school to buy a house! Other clients of mine have been able to get anywhere from $5000 more to five figures more in grants and scholarships after writing a financial aid appeal letter.
Read below for some tips for getting some more money out of your dream school.
When to write a financial aid appeal letter:
- after you have received your notification of acceptance
- after you have received all the details of your financial aid package
- before you accept your place in the class; before you submit your attendance deposit
You will be in a stronger place to request more financial aid if you have received a more generous package from a school of similar or higher prestige. For example, if an Ivy League school gives you a $10,000 scholarship, you could leverage this offer with other Ivy League and lower ranked schools.
I do not advise you to try and appeal for financial aid from two different programs. For example, don’t try and get a policy program to give you more aid because you got a scholarship to law school. It’s okay if the two programs are the same discipline but result in slightly different degrees. Whether an MPP, MPA, MPA-ID, etc., these all count as policy degrees.
How to send your financial aid appeal letter:
- The earlier you send the letter after receiving the offer of admission and your financial aid letter, the better.
- I recommend sending the letter via email in the body of the email (not as an attachment).
- Attach to the email the financial aid letter you received from your dream school as well as the more generous offers you received.
Sample Financial Aid Appeal Letter:
Subject: Financial Aid Appeal Letter from Kaneisha Grayson – Applicant #123456
March 9, 2017
Dear [insert specific name of financial aid officer whose information is on your offer letter],
I am Kaneisha Grayson, applicant #123456 to the MBA program at University of Virginia. I am very excited about having received admission to the program, and would very much like to join the incoming class.
UVA Darden is my first choice school, but funding is an important priority in choosing my final school. I received a full tuition scholarship from Cornell Johnson’s MBA program (My financial aid letters from Darden and Cornell are attached).
[Note: If you have received multiple offers that are more generous than your dream school, feel free to include those letters of financial aid as well to strengthen your request.]
Would it be possible for Darden to match the financial aid offer I have received from Cornell?
Please let me know if I can provide any further information.
Thank you for considering my request.
What to do after you send your financial aid appeal letter:
If you don’t hear anything back within two weeks, I recommend following up via email and a call. I’ve never had a client get no response from a school regarding their financial aid package—even if the response is simply, “Sorry, we can’t increase your aid.”
Will a financial aid appeal letter work?
Financial aid appeal letters work best for very strong applicants who have received more generous offers from comparative programs. Even if you have not received a more generous offer from another program, it does not hurt to ask for more financial aid. Just make sure to keep the tone professional, be concise, and do not make any ultimatum type comments such as “If I do not receive more aid, I will not be able to attend,” as that could possibly be understood as turning down your place in the class.
Will asking for more financial aid hurt me?
Schools do not revoke offers of admission when you ask for more financial aid. I have heard of admission offers being revoked, but those incidences were related to applicant dishonesty or egregious job performance drop-offs. It is perfectly fine to ask for more financial aid; just keep it truthful and understand that the most likely answer is going to be, “We appreciate the position you are in, but we cannot offer you more aid.” However, there is a small chance you will receive more aid, and it is definitely worth asking for more financial aid. Every dollar helps.
Share your stories and questions below related to writing financial aid appeal letters. Has it worked for you?