As college students are finishing up this semester at home, many are beginning to think about how to pay for college next fall and spring. Millions of people lost their jobs or their businesses were shut down. Parents are struggling to pay the bills. Making matters worse, financial aid is based on your family’s income from two years ago. This means the financial aid you qualified for is most likely not enough based on your income today.
There is hope! You can appeal to get more financial aid after experiencing job loss or decreased income. With the coronavirus pandemic, many parents and students are in this situation.
Call the college financial aid office right away. Let them know about your income changes and ask about the appeal process for more financial aid.
Typically, you will need to write an appeal letter explaining your circumstances and why you require more financial aid. Be specific and concise, outlining dates you lost your job or had to close your business and the amount of financial impact to your family. Gather documentation such as copies of layoff notices, medical/dental bills, bank and brokerage account statements. Include this documentation with your appeal letter. Focus on the financial impact to your situation. Don’t ask for a specific increased amount of financial aid. Allow the financial aid office to determine the amount.
Be polite! College financial aid administrators make the decisions on these appeals. Be sure to thank them. We are all in a tough spot working from home and under abnormal conditions. Financial aid administrators are in the same boat as the rest of us.
During your initial call to the financial aid office, inquire about grants from the CARES Act and how their college is going to award this money to students. The CARES Act included $14 billion in funding for colleges called the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF). Some colleges are giving the same amount to each student, while other colleges are distributing these monies on an emergency aid basis. Find out how your college is handling the money they receive from the CARES Act.
Your college financial aid office needs to know that you have been impacted by this pandemic and that you are need of additional financial aid. Otherwise, they will not know your financial situation has changed and will help those they do know about. Contact them today!
— Steve Doster, CFP® is the financial planning manager at Rowling & Associates – a fee-only wealth management and CPA firm helping individuals create a worry-free financial life. Rowling & Associates works to a fiduciary standard of care helping people with their taxes, investments, and financial planning. Read more articles at www.rowling.com/blog.