Finding more aid after a change in your situation
Your family’s financial situation may change while you are attending college. Whether or not you previously received a financial aid award, you should take immediate action if:
- A parent loses a job
- A parent's work hours are reduced
- An income-earning parent dies or is no longer able to work
- Any other income you reported on the FAFSA is reduced or eliminated
- You have left the workforce or reduced your hours to return to school
- You or a family member has a costly medical situation
- Your family's home has gone into foreclosure
If any of these affect your family's income, you may be eligible for more financial aid, including a Pell Grant, subsidized student loans, and other funds.
Step one: Don't panic. Call or write your school's financial aid office, tell them what happened, and ask for instructions on what you should do next. Typically, they will ask you to file a financial aid appeal.
Filing a financial aid appeal
A financial aid appeal is a request to the financial aid office to have your aid eligibility reconsidered because your family's financial situation has changed. Generally, you'll need to:
- Gather relevant documentation. This could be a layoff notice, a death certificate, or notification from a social services agency that benefits have been discontinued. Ask the aid office what they require.
- Write a letter explaining what happened.
- Submit your letter and documentation according to the financial aid office's instructions. It might be a good idea to use registered mail or another delivery service that requires a signature so you have proof that the appeal was received. Be sure to keep copies of all documents.
- Ask the aid office when you can expect a response to your appeal.
Keep track of whom you've talked to and when.
- Try to be patient after you've filed your appeal. If you don't hear anything within the expected timeframe, call and ask for a status report.
Applying for Scholarships
Difficult financial times are just one more reason to apply for as many scholarships as you possibly can. There are several free scholarship databases to guide your search. Don't assume you've missed all the deadlines—they vary from program to program.