Du học Trung Quốc: Học bổng Đại học Chiết Giang
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My financial aid has been taken away. What now?
I’m sorry this is happening to you. I wish I could tell you the likelihood of success of your appeal, but I think it depends on a lot of factors, namely your circumstances and the reason why your aid was taken away. I can say that I recently had a friend appeal their financial aid decision because of a credit hour discrepancy, and they recently got their funding back.
There are several reasons why aid can be taken away or reduced, some include:
- clerical errors
- conflicting financial aid policies
- taking less/more than a full-time schedule
- lower grades
- disciplinary reasons
I’m guessing you know why your aid was revoked, but if you don’t, call the financial aid office to find out! If you don’t know what you’re arguing about, you probably won’t get your money back. Whatever the case, here are things you can do:
1. Understand your rights and responsibilities
Usually when you apply for a scholarship or a loan, the application will have a statement telling you what you need to do to keep the money and for what reasons the amount could be reduced. You’ll want to be aware of these policies so that you can abide by them. If for some reason you have abided by these policies and your aid is still being taken away, you can use those policies to defend yourself.
You mentioned you’re afraid of your parents finding out. I’m so sorry you’re in this situation, and I’m going to do my best to give you guidance.
In the U.S., the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) makes it harder for parents to obtain your records once you’re in college, but if you’re filed as a dependent on your parents’ taxes, they can access your records. Normally, this means that if your parents are going to file a 1098-T tax form (which is provided by your college), the form shows how much you paid for college and includes the total scholarship amount you received.
However, unless they have some other reason to request your financial aid information, your parents might not even see that you’ve lost that money until next year. I don’t know if that’s the best course of action for you, but it could at least buy you some time.
If you believe you’re in danger of being kicked out of your home, please seek resources from your college, your state, local charities, and your social circle. @yournewapartment has posts about this and about moving out in general. I’d encourage you to look through their index!
2. Write a compelling appeal letter
If your grades or credit hours are too low to qualify for your aid, explain what happened. Explain that you’re a student with disabilities who has great capacity to learn. You’ll want the financial aid office to be sympathetic and understand how difficult things have been. At the same time, we know how ableism often colors abled people’s perceptions of disabled people’s ability to succeed and persevere and whatnot. You will want to sound confident that if they give you this money, you’ll put it to good use.
What steps are you taking to make sure your grades get better? Why is it necessary for you to be a part-time student? What does this financial aid mean for your education? What does it mean if you were to lose this aid?
You may want to say that you are in danger of being kicked out. I think it’s important, but I’m cautious to recommend this because of FERPA’s limited power. You may want to say how important your education is to your family. Most importantly, be honest and persuasive. Don’t doubt your potential or your struggle.
3. Meet with your financial aid counselor
Before or after you submit your appeal, call your financial aid office to speak with a real live human, and try to ensure that the person you’re speaking to has authority in these matters or can advocate on your behalf. Be polite, let them know you’re submitting an appeal and you just wanted to ask a few questions or touch base with them about it. This can help you get more information and give the counselors/administrators a reason to pay attention to you and sympathize with you on a more personal level.
4. Get new accommodations
A reduction in required credit hours is actually an accommodation you can get from your college’s office of disability services. This way, you could be taking less than full-time credits and still qualify for the same financial aid as a full-time student. If you need this accommodation, reach out to your accommodations coordinator and let them know what’s going on.
If your financial aid was revoked because of bad grades, you might also want to look at changing your accommodations. For example, if you didn’t want extra exam time because you thought you didn’t need it, maybe now you do need it. Each class is different from the next, and you’ll need different tools to cope. There’s absolutely no shame in that.
5. Look into other funding sources
Your university might have alternative funding sources, such as emergency loans or scholarships with more relaxed criteria. Scholarships.com has a good list of external scholarships, but you do have to go through the whole application process for each scholarship, which takes time. Private loans through a bank or financial service like Discover may also be a faster option, though I’d avoid loan companies like Sallie Mae. Private lenders will likely want a cosigner, although it doesn’t have to be a parent. Also remember to only borrow as much as you truly need.
I hope that helps! I do the best I can to answer questions with limited information, so let me know if I’m missing anything here, or if you don’t understand something I’ve said. I really, truly want what’s best for you, and I’m rooting for you. If you want me to look over your appeal letter, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.