103: How to Appeal a Financial Aid Award Letter

HERE’S THE PRACTICAL GUIDE THAT THIS PODCAST INSPIRED:

SHOW NOTES:

Jodi Okun is the social media rockstar of the college admissions world--check her out on Twitter!--and she is my go-to person for financial aid. A former financial aid officer from Occidental and Pitzer, she is the founder & president of College Financial Aid Advisors and has helped thousands of families navigate the financial aid process.

Jodi is the brand ambassador for Discover Student Loans, the About.com Money Expert and was recently featured as one of the Top 30 Social Influencers in Personal Finance & Wealth.

She is a social media strategist, speaker, consultant and small business advocate, and her recent book Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro is an Amazon bestseller.

On this episode we discuss:

  • Who should make the call to a financial aid office: the student or parent?
  • What to literally say to a financial aid officer when you call them to appeal
  • Why you maybe shouldn’t start off the conversation by mentioning a financial aid offer from another school
  • Jodi’s five points to cover in an appeal letter
  • What tone to take and how long the letter should be
  • The one thing students and parents should do but don’t

PLAY-BY-PLAY:

Who is Jodi Okun? [2:46]
What Jodi feels she really nailed in her book [4:51]
What has working for 10 years in the financial aid industry taught Jodi [5:32]
The first thing you should do if you receive a financial aid award letter and you’re disappointed [6:55]
Four considerations to make before filing an appeal [8:27]
What parents can do (years!) in advance to avoid a disappointing financial aid award letter [9:27]
How to predict how much financial aid you’re going to get [10:36]
Who should appeal a financial aid letter? [13:12]
How to appeal a financial aid letter [14:22]
Who should make the call to a financial aid office: the student or parent? [15:32]
What to literally say to a financial aid officer when you call them to appeal [16:02]
The importance of “The Pause” when making an appeal [16:42]
Why you maybe shouldn’t start off the conversation by mentioning a financial aid offer from another school [18:22]
How often are parents speaking with the person who could be the decision-maker? [19:32]
An inside look inside how decisions are sometimes made in a financial aid office [20:22]
What can negatively impact your appeal? [23:02]
How to be prepared for the financial aid appeal conversation [25:12]
Jodi’s five points to cover in an appeal letter [26:22]
What tone to take and how long the letter should be [27:24]
When should students appeal? [30:27]
Should students include additional materials to make the case for an appeal? [32:32]
Financial Aid 101 and common financial aid terms to know [37:17]
The one thing students should do but don’t [37:42]
The one thing parents should do but don’t [38:66]
Why do people always pronounce it “FASFA”? [39:27]
Should families who make a lot of money still apply for financial aid? [39:57]
Why Jodi is bummed about the IRS tool (why it shut down and what it means) [40:52]
Why you should absolutely go to admitted student day [43:08]
Jodi’s favorite secret tip for those who can’t attend an admitted student day [43:52]
Tips for filling out your FAFSA: whether or not to include house and retirement when reporting assets, when you should include business assets and when you shouldn’t, etc. [44:36]
Tip for filling out the CSS Profile [46:52]
Jodi’s Show and Tell: Mindfulness and Ashtanga yoga
Ethan’s Show and Tell: Headspace (meditation app) and a TED Talk by its founder, Andy Puddicombe
What would you like to leave us with? [50:22]

LINKS MENTIONED ON THIS EPISODE