Tips for communicating with the financial aid office
Clear, prompt communication is the key to a successful relationship with your school’s financial aid office. Remember, the aid office doesn't know anything that you haven't told them.
When to communicate
Contact the aid office when:
- You realize you forgot to report key information when you applied for aid.
- Your financial situation has changed.
- You have a question.
- You receive outside aid, such as a scholarship.
If something has changed, you might be eligible for more financial aid. See "Finding More Aid After a Change in Your Situation" for some tips.
Facts to remember before you contact the aid office
Aid offices have many responsibilities:
- Calculating applicants' financial need
- Awarding aid
- Processing loans
- Monitoring students' eligibility
- Complying with rules imposed by different stakeholders
Be patient. Understand that your concern might not be resolved immediately, and you might not be 100% satisfied with the resolution. If you are not satisfied, consider filing an appeal.
Ways to communicate
How you communicate depends largely on what you need to share. Check with your financial aid office for guidance on how they prefer to communicate.
- E-mail is good for routine correspondence.
- Avoid sending sensitive information, such as your Social Security number, via e-mail.
- Telephone is better for confidential conversations and persuasion.
- It might be hard to get through to the aid office during peak calling times. E-mail or write instead.
- Written communication is "on-the-record" (as is e-mail).
- Check with the financial aid office if they encourage e-mail correspondence.
- Always request confirmation that your message has been received
- Always respond in writing when original documentation, such as a signed form, is required.
- Ask if you can scan signed documents and submit them as PDF files.
- Schedule an in-person visit if:
- You want to cultivate a relationship with the aid office.
- Your circumstances are complex.
- You haven't been able to establish contact by other means.
- The office has not responded to previous attempts to communicate.
Remember, your aid eligibility may change if your circumstances have changed. Communication is key, and it could increase your financial aid award!