Approximately 30% of the student population in New Brunswick appeal for financial aid, said Brian Berry, the director of the Office of Financial Aid.
Rutgers students are able to appeal their financial aid if they have a compelling reason and supporting documents for Rutgers to reconsider their financial aid award.
The process for a student to appeal financial aid includes writing a letter to the Office of Financial Aid explaining their financial circumstances. The Office of Financial Aid reviews the letter with any supporting documentation, as well as the information received from the student's Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and make a determination from there.
The appeals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, because “institutional funds are limited,” Berry said. Every student and family financial situation is different, so there is no standard template to approve or deny an appeal.
“There are a variety of reasons that students typically appeal, usually around some type of extenuating circumstance that has arisen during the given semester. In addition we need to see that the student has financial need. Oftentimes these appeals are to help toward an outstanding or past due term bill balance,” Berry said.
A student got their financial aid appealed because their base aid tuition was not enough to cover the remaining costs of tuition they could not pay.
“I spoke to a financial aid officer over the phone and she sent me some form through email. It took about half of the fall semester to finish the process. I got an appeal because base aid tuition wasn’t enough to cover what I couldn’t pay. When I got the appeal I had no more problems,” said Brandon Paredes, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences first-year.
To be eligible to submit an appeal letter to the Office of Financial Aid, students would need to have a FAFSA on file for the current academic year of the term they are appealing for. Typically, students with large term bills that are unpaid due to family financial hardship are what the Office of Financial Aid is looking for, Berry said.
Rutgers is looking for ways to improve and expedite the financial aid process for its students, he said.
“We meet as senior leadership group regularly to constantly look at process improvement and work with our colleagues at our Big Ten peer institutions as well,” Berry said.