Colleges Are Flooded With Requests for More Financial Aid. Here's How to Make the Strongest Case

"… A lot of different sources go into how a student and their family pay for college. One of the biggest sources is federal student aid, including grants that students don’t have to pay back, loans and work-study, where students work for the school to help cover their costs. Then there’s money from state-sponsored programs, scholarships from non-profits and private organizations, and help from the institution itself.

Much of that aid is based on a family’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which uses earnings from two years prior regardless of when you fill it out. That timing is crucial here: If someone has been laid off or had their wages cut during the pandemic, it won’t be represented in their aid from the federal government.

In that case, students can request that a financial aid officer update their forms to reflect their current financial situation in a process known as ‘professional judgement.’ After that, if a student is eligible for more federal aid, like the Pell Grant given to lower-income students, they’ll get it." …