NASFAA Mention: As Colleges Brace for Financial Aid Appeals, There's a New Tool to Help Students File Them

"Whether they've just been accepted or are heading into another year, college students may soon have trouble paying for school, as the novel coronavirus takes a toll on family finances. Colleges and universities can adjust financial aid awards, but few students are aware of the option, and the process can be daunting," The Washington Post writes.

"A digital platform unveiled Wednesday by the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation aims to take the guesswork out of financial aid appeals. The free tool, dubbed SwiftStudent, guides students through requesting more funding, explaining eligibility, the documents applicants need and the kinds of appeals. It provides templates, powered by software company FormSwift, that let users plug in their information to generate a letter for submission to their school's financial aid office.

...Congress gives financial aid administrators leeway to use their professional judgment, which leaves little standardization in the appeals process, explained Justin Draeger, president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators. He said members of the association who collaborated on SwiftStudent liked the way the form focuses students' attention on what's most likely to be considered in an appeal.

Draeger cautions that not every institution will necessarily accept the form and said students should check in with their financial aid offices for more information.

Professional judgment reviews could decrease a student's expected family contribution or increase their estimated cost of attendance, making them eligible for more grants and loans. Families can appeal for more aid throughout college, even if their financial circumstances change in the middle of the semester.

Given the waves of layoffs in recent weeks, financial aid offices could be bombarded with pleas for help in the coming months.

'Schools are definitely worried about it,' Draeger said. 'What we're likely to see is a lot of middle-income families whose financial circumstances have completed changed and they're now wondering how they're going to pay for college.'"

NASFAA's "Notable Headlines" section highlights media coverage of financial aid to help members stay up to date with the latest news. Articles included under the notable headlines section are not written by NASFAA, but rather by external sources. Inclusion in Today's News does not imply endorsement of the material or guarantee the accuracy of information presented.

 

Publication Date: 4/15/2020


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