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Appealing College Financial-Aid

It was great to have Gibney College Solutions LLC highlighted and quoted in the Wall Street Journal. The article focused on financial-aid awards and how families can appeal if they feel the award doesn't reflex their current situation. Here is an except from the article:


Financial-aid award letters have arrived or will soon arrive for graduating high-school seniors and returning college students. This year especially, more families may be experiencing substantially different economic circumstances than when they initially applied for aid. Families whose circumstances have changed—whether or not it is related to coronavirus—have the option to appeal their award. Here’s what those considering an appeal need to do.

Understand what circumstances might warrant an appeal. Generally, most schools won’t reconsider a student’s aid package unless something major has changed since the initial filing, such as parental loss of a job, a significant drop in income, unusually high out-of-pocket medical expenses or atypical one-time expenses. Because of the widespread economic impact of the pandemic, a family’s change in circumstances could be especially relevant this year given that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or Fafsa, and the College Board’s CSS Profile for institutional aid both rely on data from a family’s 2018 tax returns.

Make the appeal as soon as possible. Institutional funds for aid are limited, so don’t delay. Remember, this year in particular, competition could be greater, given that more than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment benefits since mid-March.

Follow the school-specific processes. Each school has its own appeals process. The school’s financial-aid website should say what is required. It is always a good idea to follow up with a phone call to a school’s financial-aid office since websites aren’t always up-to-date and families need to be sure they are following the proper procedure, says Scott Gibney, an educational consultant with Gibney College Solutions LLC in Newtown, Conn. Families should provide whatever information and use whatever forms a school requests. If a free-form letter is allowed, one page is ideal, says Mr. Gibney, who recommends that appeals be fact-based, use bullet points and stay on subject. Don’t make demands, he adds, and always be respectful.


Families need to do what’s financially prudent for them—even if it means disappointing their student—to avoid burdensome debt. “If you don’t get the money you were hoping for, you may need to make difficult choices,” Mr. Gibney says.

Appealing College Financial Aid