Appealing Merit Aid: What’s the Best Approach?

by | Mar 3, 2021 | Financial Aid

You’ve been accepted and received your merit awards. You have some great options to choose from, but your top choice’s out-of-pocket cost is a little out of reach. You may be wondering if it’s possible to appeal your merit award, and the short answer is, “Yes, you can!” Each college has its own policy on whether it reviews merit appeals and the basis for which it reviews them. It can’t hurt to appeal for more. You never know if the college is still seeking students like you, or if it is hopeful that a small increase to your award package will help put you on the campus. Let’s review some quick tips for deciphering if a merit appeal is right for you.

Look for outliers. Generally, merit awards tend to be similar amounts at like schools. You’ll want to compare awards from academically competitive institutions that share the same geographic region, status (public or private), and size. If you find that you have a merit award that seems lower than the rest, you’ll want to double-check that the college received the same application materials as the others. Perhaps you neglected to submit your awesome SAT scores to that college. This would definitely be grounds to approach the school and appeal your merit. You can highlight your competitive merit awards at other colleges while addressing the details of your application. 

Highlight improvements. Did you have an extraordinary first half of senior year? Perhaps you received superior recognition for an organization you’re involved in, or aced your rigorous course load and your cumulative GPA rose since you submitted application materials. These are all reasons you may want to reach out to your top choice and let them know about your new accomplishments while inquiring if you’d be eligible for more merit funding.

Set low expectations. The reality is that some colleges simply will not review any merit appeal requests. They offer individuals their highest amount upon admission and remain firm with that original decision. Other colleges may review appeals, but the likelihood of a significant increase is minimal. It’s best to go into an appeal with an open mind. 

We at Campus Bound are here to help craft appeal letters and provide guidance on the best approach to appeals. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions regarding the process. 

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