The high cost of tuition is a barrier many college students must overcome to enroll in the college of their choice and finish their degree requirements. Many students don't receive enough scholarship money, grant money or other financial aid to complete their higher education. Fortunately, your financial aid offer is not always the final word, and you can ask for additional money by writing a letter detailing your specific needs. The letter must be carefully crafted, however, to give financial aid staffers the information they need to justify additional aid.
A Change of Circumstance
If you've already filled out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid and received an aid offer from your college, but realize it's not enough, contact your college directly about additional financial aid options. For example, your college might offer certain scholarships that you're eligible for or additional aid to supplement your initial offer. A change in your circumstances that alters how much you can contribute to your tuition and other college costs also warrants a letter requesting additional aid.
In your letter, include all contact information and your student ID number if you have been given one. Address the letter directly to a financial aid officer at your college. Peterson's guide, "Paying for College" recommends sending this letter apart from your admission packet and your FAFSA application. The purpose of your request is to outline specific unusual or unexpected circumstances requiring additional financial aid that were not part of your original application.
Making Your Case
Outline the reasons why you need tuition assistance in the opening body of your letter. Be specific about why you need additional help paying for your college tuition. For example, explain that you care for a sick or disabled family member or that you've recently lost your job and don't have income.
Specify Your Need
You might be more likely to receive assistance from your college if you include facts and figures in your letter. Explain how much money you have to contribute to your college education, and exactly how much you need to make up the difference. Many colleges also require you to provide information about your projected income, such as how you're planning to get a job or otherwise secure funds to pay for your tuition in the future. If you need help with costs outside of tuition, such as books or room and board, state that in your letter.
Close With Gratitude
Close your letter in a respectful tone by thanking the person for considering your request. Make yourself available for answering any questions and providing additional information or documentation as necessary. Show that you're willing to work with the financial aid office to get the resources you need. State your willingness to set up a meeting with a financial aid counselor, which many colleges require before considering your request for tuition assistance.
Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.