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Financial hardship? You may be eligible for more aid.

Written by
VSAC Staff

August 23, 2023


students at computers

Facing unexpected expenses or a change in family income? Consider appealing for more financial aid.

UVM junior David Richardson knows a lot about financial hardship and the unexpected ways it can strike a family.

When David was seven, his family’s financial stability literally slipped out from underneath them when his father fell down the stairs at work and broke his back. Then, a short time later, his dad fell seriously ill, and his mom – now the sole breadwinner – had to leave her job to become his full-time caregiver. “We were a low-income family from then on,” David says, which was certainly a factor when it came time for him to apply to college. (You can read more about David’s college journey, and his aspirations to help low-income students, here.)  

Families’ financial circumstances change all the time. Many college students, for example, saw their families’ incomes drastically reduced during the COVID-19 pandemic, and some current college students may have been impacted by the severe flooding that devastated many areas of the state in July.

When bad things happen – be it a flood, a medical crisis, or loss of a job – families might not know that they can ask for reconsideration of their financial aid package, which may have been based on a completely different financial reality. And for those students who have experienced a change in circumstances who have not yet applied for financial aid, they can still apply for the 2023-2024 school year.

Financial aid can be re-evaluated if your circumstances change

“It may not occur to students and families that appealing or filing an application for aid is an option, because financial aid offers seem so formal and final,” says Carrie Harlow, a VSAC Outreach Counselor who specializes in financial aid. “But appealing, or filing an application for new or increased aid, is absolutely a possibility both for offers provided through the Vermont Grant Program, and offers that come from individual colleges or training providers,” Harlow noted.

Students may be eligible for financial aid reconsideration if their family’s income has decreased, their family size has increased, their assets have decreased, or they have experienced unexpected expenses. The two most important steps: for Vermont Grant aid, reach out to the Vermont Grant Program. For all other aid, reach out to the financial aid office at your college or training program.

Learn how to appeal your offer

Grants for education and training expenses are administered by VSAC for the state of Vermont. If you haven’t yet applied for a Vermont grant for 2023-2024 you may still do so. If you’ve received a grant, and your circumstances have changed, you may appeal your offer.  

To learn more about appealing your Vermont Grant or your institution’s financial aid offer, see our resource page for appealing your financial aid. It offers tips for getting started, including helpful FAQs and links to info on how to craft a compelling appeal letter to your college or institution as well as a free template you can use.

If you are appealing your aid based upon a decrease in income or an increase in expenses, you will most likely need to submit materials documenting your situation. For more information, see the FAQs for appealing your financial aid offer.

You can also watch a “VSAC Shows You How” webinar on the topic. While the event was hosted in 2021, the advice is still relevant today.

Need help? Ask VSAC.

If you have additional questions, email VSAC’s grant program, and we’ll have someone get back to you. Our goal is to help you navigate your way with financial aid, through whatever circumstances arise, so that you can keep pursuing your education goals.

As David Richardson says, “They may have more money for you. You just have to ask for it. The worst they can say is no, and they might actually say yes.”