Financial Aid award decreased after accepted

My son’s financial aid (grant money) was decreased by several thousand after we accepted the award. Is this allowed? I was not notified, but just went in to see the final bill for the Fall semester and saw that it was a few more thousand than anticipated. So, I logged into financial aid and his award was decreased. Next to it, it states “accepted”, but we never accepted this amount! One of the reasons he decided on the school was due to his financial aid package. I have emailed the school, but they have our deposit money and my son is all set on going. This seems completely unethical to me.

  • He did receive a small Pell Grant award for a few hundred dollars, but this should not have caused his grant money to be decreased by 2k, right?

Are you saying that a grant for 10,000 was offered (for example) and it was changed to $8000 (for example) once you accepted the award?

A grant is usually split between two semesters. A $10,000 grant would be split $5000 for fall, $5000 for spring. Could that be what it is?


Did he receive this Pell Grant after you accepted the rest of his financial aid package? I’m confused.

Yes, grant (for entire year) was reduced by 2k, 1k per semester

You were not notified…but was your son notified? Usually colleges communicate with the students. Perhaps your son received something…or maybe it’s in his spam folder.


Yes, strangely there was a Pell Grant added which was not in his initial award. It was only for a few hundred dollars and did not substitute the amount of the decreased award (if that is even allowed). So, he was not awarded any Pell Grant monies initially and for example, was awarded 10k in grant money. Now, I just logged on and his grant was for 8k, but a $500 Pell Grant was added (not actual numbers).

I will have him check, but…they still changed his award after it was accepted in April.

If there was a mistake the college found on your financial aid forms…they could have changed the award. It’s very possible that they sent something to the student. This could happen at any time.

Or it might be a mistake NOW. Contact them by phone on Monday. And ask to speak to the financial aid officer who handles your son’s account.

Mistakes do happen…on either end.

You say these aren’t real numbers. If the amount is $2000 for the year, did your son already take the student Direct Loan? If not, that could cover this.

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I think there needs to be a phone call to the FA office.


Did your son happen to get any outside, third party scholarships? Sometimes those don’t “stack” with need-based aid (it depends on the college’s policies). So a $2,000 outside scholarship reduces your “need” by $2,000 and the university takes it back.


Good thought @Groundwork2022

I wonder if this student received outside scholarships and that is why his school need based award was reduced!

@sal2023 did this happen?

no outside scholarships…so would the Pell grant award take away from his grant money? Did the college decide he gets the Pell (it was not awarded on his original award letter)?

no outside scholarship monies

It’s possible that his college based grant was reduced when the Pell was found to be added. The question is…why was the college reviewing your financial aid application? Clearly, if a Pell was added, this was happening.

Did you ever ask for any reconsideration of your award?

Also, are you parents married? Is this a CSS Profile school…or FAFSA only.


No, I did not ask for a reconsideration of our award. Parents divorced. Fafsa only.

we have to pay over 40k, so 2k was just a drop in the bucket…but 2k is 2k. just seems wrong.

Is it possible that it’s the bills that are more expensive than you expected? Are you sure you have counted all additional costs? For example, a LOT of colleges will automatically charge for student health insurance. Usually it’s just a case of submitting proof of insurance and that cost will be removed. Or maybe there are mandatory fees for other things. For example, at my son’s uni, all students have to pay some additional fees for the health center. Did they automatically give him the most expensive meal plan by default? Did he choose more expensive housing? All these types of charges are very common. They don’t give away anything for free, lol.

I think you need to explore those possibilities. The amount of money you’re talking about (around $2000-$3000 over the year?) seems consistent with these types of charges. It’s really easy to get them reduced usually. Just call the FA office and ask them to explain.


Well…hopefully you will get an answer when you call the financial aid department tomorrow morning.

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This is what I think also. I would call.

We had one case where someone just made an honest mistake. They fixed it. Since we had already paid for the fall semester (when the mistake was made) they just deducted the amount from the following spring semester, which became very inexpensive.

Other than a mistake, I am hard pressed to know what might have happened here.

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So you qualify for a Pell Grant and the total COA is $40k? Is that affordable?

Keep us updated after your call, it would be helpful if you shared actual numbers, before and after.