How To Appeal for Additional Financial Aid and/or Scholarships

What is it?

If you’re not completely satisfied with your financial aid award we can complete a formal process to appeal for re-consideration. Nothing is guaranteed in this process and normally we tell our clients to make their school decisions based on the original awards. However, we are going to give them hell and see if we can’t squeeze more out of them.


Typically, successful appeals result in an additional $3,000-$5,000 (annually). Successful appeals are VERY rare at public institutions (outside of extreme hardships), whereas we expect good results at most private schools. Again, nothing is guaranteed.


We want to submit appeals once we receive the financial aid awards at relevant colleges (we won’t appeal at a school, if we’re not serious about attending). This usually means between mid-December/mid-January for early applicants and mid-March/early-April for regular decision applicants. Sometimes we will wait to receive (hopefully more generous) awards before appealing. Colleges usually take between 2-3 weeks to make a decision, but this varies and sometimes take months.

Should we always appeal?

No. There are scenarios in which we could risk receiving less money if we appeal. This is rare, but possible. Make sure you consult your CAP Expert before submitting formal appeal.

How do we do it?

Stop me if you’ve heard this: It depends on the college. As we’ve mentioned, these institutions are private businesses and as such they each run their business differently. Consult your CAP Expert for guidance on the procedures at your particular college/s. However, in all cases you will have to have something in writing in order for colleges to alter an award. We will provide specific guidance on this.


We take a four-pronged approach to appeal awards;

(1) A letter and engagement from the student (see video below)

(2) a letter from the parent

(3) leveraging other financial aid and merit based awards

(4) leveraging our network of financial aid counselors


Student Engagement

Student’s willing to be involved in the appeal process greatly increase odds of a successful appeal.

  •  Phone call:  Would the student be willing to call their financial aid counselor directly to initiate the process?  We can coach them up on this and are happy to do so.
  • Email/letter:  The student should be the one driving this appeal, even if they are not comfortable getting on the phone.  Appeal emails letters should come from them, and then allude to the fact that they have included a parent letter, parent tax returns, tax documentation, etc.
  • Exception to this rule?  Although rare, there are cases where it makes more sense for the parents to drive this appeal conversation.  Again, consult with us for a firm recommendation.

Appeal Letter

Your letters should not exceed more than one page, unless absolutely necessary in order to explain your circumstances.

Students Letter/Engagement: This should be as personal and as specific as possible. Remember, the financial aid office does not see what the admissions office sees, they only see the financial figures. The student should express their desire to attend the school, why they want to attend the school, and how they will enhance the campus. If the student visited campus and/or met with a particular faculty member they should include these details as well; name-dropping works!

Parent’s Letter: You should also personalize your letters. Make it clear that you want nothing more than to see your child attend their top college choice, but it is unrealistic unless you receive some additional aid. Make sure to also bring to light any situation that may not have come through on FAFSA; debt, medical expenses, salary reduction, an abnormally good year in 2020, COVID IRA/401(K) distribution etc. The more details the better. Supporting documentation will be imperative.


There are a number of different templates below that have been used successfully in previous years. Feel free to use these as a guide but make sure yours are original. Please shoot us a copy of your letters to review and help with formal submission. If college request appeal via email they should come from the parent/student email address after our review.

Appeal Letter Examples

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