SwiftStudent: New tool to appeal financial aid awards


If you want to appeal a financial aid award, there is a new resource to help you write the aid appeal letter.

The free tool, called SwiftStudent, guides families through requesting more financial aid for a variety of reasons including because of financial setback due to COVID-19.

The brainchild of this easy-to-use tool is Abigail Seldin, who has had a keen interest and involvement in the higher-ed world for years. The family foundation (Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation), created by Seldin and her husband, underwrote this project.

Working with numerous colleges, higher-ed and advocacy groups and the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, the foundation ran 20 focus groups mainly with students and financial aid officers when developing the appeal tool.

Seldin said the vast majority of students were surprised to learn that they could ask for more money after receiving their financial aid awards. Seldin said it is no wonder that it isn’t generally known that families can appeal awards since there is no mention of this on the federal financial aid website.

“If you go the glossary of studentaid.gov and type in ‘appeal,’ it’s not there,” Seldin said. “There is nothing about our current system, starting with the government site, that suggests that we should be proactive in telling students that their packages can be adjusted.”

SwiftTool helps families answer these questions:

  • Am I eligible for more financial aid?
  • What documents do I need?
  • How do I write an appeal letter?
  • How do I submit a letter to the financial aid office?

This tool is coming online just as billions from the Cares Act funding is set to provide aid to colleges for students impacted by COVID-19. Colleges are going to have roughly $6 billion to distribute to students directly.

In case you are wondering about privacy, the students’ data will not be sold or shared with third parties.

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