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Tips for Communicating with the Financial Aid Office

Clear, prompt communication is essential for a successful relationship with your school’s financial aid office. It's up to you to provide complete and accurate information on any aid-related matter that comes up, and to follow through as needed.

When to Communicate

Contact the aid office when:

  • You have a question.
  • You realize you forgot to report key information when you applied for aid.
  • You receive outside aid, such as a scholarship.
  • Your situation has changed.

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 are responsible for just about every aspect of aid—from calculating financial need to processing loans and monitoring students’ eligibility. They’re busy places, so be patient. Be courteous and act professionally. Understand that your issue might not be resolved immediately, and you might not be 100 percent satisfied with the resolution—but filing an appeal is an option.

Ways to Communicate

How you communicate depends largely on what you need to share. Check with your financial aid office about preferred forms of communication. Here are some general guidelines to follow:

  • Email routine correspondence, but never use it to send sensitive information, such as your Social Security number.
  • Rely on the telephone for confidential conversations.
  • Remember that all written communication—including email—is "on the record."
  • Always request confirmation that your message has been received.
  • Always respond in writing when original documentation, such as a signed form, is required. Don’t assume it’s OK to submit PDFs of scanned signed documents. Check first.
  • Make an in-person visit if:
    • Your circumstances are complex.
    • You haven't been able to establish contact by other means.
    • You haven’t received a response to previous attempts to communicate.

Keep a record of all your communications with the financial aid office in case of errors or questions in the future.

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