Seek more aid, ‘every student’, amidst FAFSA’s woes, advises expert.

February 14, 2024
1 min read

TLDR: Amid FAFSA issues, it’s a good time to lobby for more financial aid

Problems with the new FAFSA have frustrated many students and families, but this also makes it a good time to ask for more money. Schools are often receptive to appeals for more aid, they just don’t advertise it.

The new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) was designed to improve college access, but problems with the rollout have left many students and families frustrated, resulting in fewer students applying overall. As of the last tally, nearly 4 million students have submitted the 2024-25 FAFSA form so far, which is a fraction of the 17 million students who use the FAFSA form in ordinary years.

Higher education already costs more than most families can afford, and college costs are still rising. For most students and their families, the amount of financial aid offered and the breakdown between grants, scholarships, work-study opportunities, and student loans are key to covering the tab.

This year, those award letters will likely look a lot different due to the changes implemented by the new FAFSA. As a result, families have the opportunity to ask for more college aid through appeals. Experts suggest that “every student should anticipate doing an appeal this year.”

The changes to the FAFSA include a new calculation called the “Student Aid Index” to estimate a family’s ability to pay. While this change will benefit low- and moderate-income students, it may reduce eligibility for wealthier families. Additionally, the new FAFSA no longer provides a break for having multiple children in college at the same time, eliminating the “sibling discount.”

Despite these changes, families can make a good case for appealing their financial aid award letters. Whether the changes in the FAFSA have affected the family’s eligibility or if the financial aid packages from other schools are better, it is worth reaching out to the financial aid office and asking them about the process of appealing for more aid.

Experts advise preparing the appeal by explaining any need-based issues beyond what was noted in the financial aid paperwork, such as having another sibling in college or changes in financial circumstances. It’s also worth mentioning if other schools have offered better financial aid packages. Appeals can often have positive results, especially at private schools.

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