Every semester, millions of college students eagerly await word on the amount of their financial aid package. In the academic year of 2010-11 alone, 85 percent of entering freshman at four-year institutions relied on student loans to help pay for school. In some circumstances, such as when a student has been awarded more loan money than is allowable, part or all of the student's award can be cancelled, leaving the student scrambling to cover expenses.
When part or all of your student loan is cancelled, you will receive an official notification from the school. If the loan is a federal student loan, you will receive notice in the mail unless you have signed up for electronic notifications. If you have agreed to receive electronic notifications only, you'll receive notification via the email address you provided when you applied for the loan. Because of spam filters and the possibility of losing mail, it's important to check back with your school's financial aid department frequently before the payment deadline for the semester via their online portal or in person to be sure your loan is on track and nothing has changed.
May Be Notified of Other Loans or Grants
If a loan has been cancelled because of overpayment or another reason, your school may notify you of other types of loans or financial aid, such as grants, that may be available. These loans may be private loans or they may have less desirable terms or interest rates, however, so it's important to read the terms and conditions carefully before you apply. If you would like more information or guidance about your options to pay for school, visit your school's financial aid department. The advisers are trained to help match students with financial aid programs to help them pay for school, and they may have some leeway for adjusting the award in case of overpayment.
Invited to Appeal
Depending on the type of loan, the student or the parent may be able to appeal the cancellation. The details about when and how the student or parent can appeal are usually contained in the notification letter about the cancellation of the loan. However, if you're unable to find this information in the notification form, your school's financial aid department can give you details about the appeals process, if one exists for the type of loan for which you applied.
Make Up the Money
The worst-case scenario for a cancelled student loan is that you will have to make up the money and pay the bill on your own. Again, your financial aid department may be able to help you in this regard by matching you with a work-study program. Alternatively, the department that handles tuition billing may have a variety of payment options, such as installment payments, that may help break up the cost of the tuition and fees into smaller payments.
Natalie Smith is a technical writing professor specializing in medical writing localization and food writing. Her work has been published in technical journals, on several prominent cooking and nutrition websites, as well as books and conference proceedings. Smith has won two international research awards for her scholarship in intercultural medical writing, and holds a PhD in technical communication and rhetoric.