How to Write an Appeal Letter for College

Instructor: Shelby Golden
If you've had your financial aid suspended due to poor academic performance, read this article to learn the steps involved in writing a successful appeal letter. You'll find out what type of information to include and get tips for following the proper formatting.

Writing an Appeal Letter

Schools will often reinstate your financial aid and help you get your studies back on track if your poor grades were caused by extenuating circumstances, such as a medical emergency or a death in the family.

But first, you'll need to write an appeal letter - a one-page document explaining your circumstances and your plan to improve your academic performance. To get started, check out this lesson outlining the letter-writing process. Then, take a look at the tips below for additional specifics on writing a successful appeal letter.

Check the Policies at Your School

Before you sit down to write your appeal letter, make sure to review your school's policies. Some schools require the letter to be set up in a specific way. Many ask that you also include transcripts, a worksheet outlining your degree plan, or a formal appeals application.

Follow the Proper Formatting

Your letter will typically need to include your complete mailing address, the address of the committee you're addressing the letter to, and the date at the top of the page. A subject line and a salutation will need to precede the body of your letter. Be sure to also include an appropriate closing, your printed name, and your signature at the end.

To get a better idea of how these items look on the page, check out this lesson on the components of a business letter.

Explain Your Situation and Outline Your Plan of Action

For the body of your letter, you'll want to begin by clearly stating what you're trying to appeal. Some schools also recommend briefly introducing yourself to the appeals committee.

Follow these statements with information about why your studies were affected. Report the facts in your letter without trying to overdramatize what happened. On a similar note, you should stay on message. Don't include information that isn't directly relevant to your academic performance.

Go on to cover how you are going to address these problems and improve your studies. You shouldn't try to threaten the committee. Resorting to pleading or begging should also be avoided. Instead, provide a concrete plan of action that could include such items as meeting with an academic advisor or signing up for tutoring services. Finish the body of your letter by thanking the appeals committee.

Provide Documentation

Make sure you include official documentation directly related to the reasons for your academic problems. For example, if you missed most of the semester because you were in the hospital, include documentation of your hospital stay in your letter. The same concept applies to whatever situation kept your from your studies.

Note which documents you'll be including by listing them in a brief 'Enclosures' line at the very bottom of your letter.

Proofread the Letter

You don't want a glaring spelling error in the middle of your appeal letter. You should go over it a few times before you send it off. Having someone else read it for you would also be a good idea.

Additional suggestions for polishing your letter can be found in these lessons covering proofreading strategies and tips for avoiding common writing pitfalls.

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