How to Appeal a Suspension of Financial Aid

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  • Your school may stop your aid for any number of reasons. Often, it is due to poor academic performance.
  • If your school stops your financial aid, you may be able to appeal the decision and get it back.
  • You will need to write an appeal letter detailing any extenuating circumstances.

For many students, financial aid is a game changer. It can even mean the difference between going to college and not participating.

Unfortunately, initial approval does not guarantee your help for the entire time you are in school. In fact, there are some situations where your school can suspend your aid, or even cut it off altogether.

If your financial aid stops, here’s what you can do about it.

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Why might my school stop my financial aid?

There are several reasons why a school may stop your financial aid. It may be because you did not complete your degree in the maximum hours allowed, changed majors (and your aid is program specific), or your household income changed and you no longer demonstrate a need for assistance.

However, most of the time, a lack of Satisfactory Academic Progress, or SAP, is the reason for suspension.

“Schools can suspend financial aid under certain circumstances, although the specific reasons for suspension vary by institution and its policies,” says Cindy Chanin, founder of Rainbow EDU Consulting & Tutoring, which offers college admissions guidance. “Typically, aid is stopped when students are performing poorly academically. Many schools require students to maintain a minimum GPA and complete a minimum number of credits per semester to qualify for financial aid.”

If the school stops your aid, it could even end your college career if you’ve exhausted all other financial options. Fortunately, if you are suspended due to a SAP failure, you may be able to appeal the decision and get your assistance back. In fact, according to college admissions counselor Nat Smithobol, your college is likely motivated to work with you.

“Schools want every student to stay and graduate within four years to increase their retention rate and four- and six-year graduation rates,” says Smithobol, admissions counselor at IvyWise College Counseling. “They know that if students receive less financial aid, they will be less likely to stay and graduate.”

Components of a financial aid suspension appeal letter

The exact financial aid suspension appeal process varies by college, but your school may have a form you’ll need to fill out to get started. You can get it at your financial aid office.

You will also need to include a formal letter explaining your non-compliance with SAP requirements. If this failure was due to health problems or a death in the family, go into detail and explain how those challenges affected your academic progress.

“Your appeal will need to explain the extenuating circumstances that led to your non-compliance with SAP and how your situation has changed that will allow you to comply with SAP in the future,” says Elaine Rubin, director of communications for Edvisors, a financial aid planning firm. platform.

Ultimately, your letter should include:

  • A header with your name, contact information, and the date
  • A formal address to the financial aid office or committee that is considering the appeal.
  • An introductory paragraph explaining the reason for the letter.
  • Details of why you did not make satisfactory academic progress
  • Your plan to meet SAP standards in the future
  • A formal signature with contact information

In addition to writing a letter, you must also provide additional documentation to support your statements.

“Students need to be prepared to document why they failed in the first place and, more importantly, their plans for future success,” says Gregory Davis, Champlain College’s director of financial aid. “If they plan to meet with a support group or counselor, document that those appointments have already been scheduled. If they plan to work with their instructors or counselors, obtain supporting documentation from that person.”

Sample Financial Aid Suspension Appeal Letter

You will need to format your appeal letter like a cover letter, with a heading, a date, and a formal salutation. Then you’ll want to dive into the reason for your letter (you’re appealing the decision to stop his aid), the circumstances that led to your not making satisfactory academic progress, and what you plan to do about it.

Here is an example of what it should look like:

sam johnson

123 First Street

Postal Code

lady jane smythe

Director of the Office of Financial Aid

College name

123 Second Street

Postal Code

January 1, 2023

Dear Ms. Smythe and members of the financial aid committee,

My name is Sam Johnson, and I am a sophomore at XYZ College majoring in biology with an expected graduation date of May 2026.

I was recently notified that the school stopped my financial aid due to my not making satisfactory academic progress. I take full responsibility for my inability to meet SAP standards. I would also like the opportunity to explain the circumstances that hindered my progress this semester, as well as my plans to make satisfactory progress in the coming year. With this information, I hope you will consider restoring my help.

I experienced significant health issues in the spring 2023 semester. These required multiple doctor visits and hospitalizations, taking time away from my studies. Fortunately, my health has improved a lot in recent weeks and I now have a treatment plan that will allow me to get back to my academic activities. I have included a doctor’s note and records of my recent appointments and hospitalizations as evidence of these statements.

I have also worked with my academic advisor, John Doe, to create a plan to ensure success in the coming semesters. Once again, I have attached records of this correspondence to this letter.

I appreciate your time and thank you for considering my appeal. If you need any other documentation or explanation, please contact me at [email protected]. I will reply as quickly as possible.


sam johnson

[email protected]


Alternative sources of college funding if your appeal is denied

If your appeal is unsuccessful, your first step is to find out why. There is a possibility that the appeals committee had concerns with the academic plan and would approve the modifications.

You also have other options. First, you can look for outside scholarships, such as through your parents’ employers or local non-profit organizations. You can also ask friends and family for funds or take a part-time job to supplement your tuition.

Last but not least, shop around for student loans if you haven’t already. You can apply for the federals using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and then consider private lenders to fill in the gaps. Just make sure you only borrow what you need. This will help minimize your debts and the interest you’ll pay on them in the long run.

Be warned, though: Many private student loan lenders also have SAP requirements.

Be proactive with your SAP

The best way to avoid a suspension of financial aid is to understand the SAP requirements early and have a plan to meet them.

“Keep track of your grades and use the resources available to you,” says Rubin. “Sign up for office hours with your professors, use the tutoring opportunities offered on campus, and set up a study group to help you get through your classes.”

Most importantly, check in regularly and make sure you’re on track.

“College is a little different than high school,” says Rubin. “Your teachers won’t be monitoring your progress on assignments due at the end of term, and if you wait until the last minute, you may find yourself in trouble.”