Financial Aid Appeals Process at MIT

Lori Strauss, Communications Manager, Student Financial Services

SFS logoAround this time of year the national news media encourages students and families to contact their financial aid offices and to try and negotiate or appeal their award to get more aid. We in Student Financial  Services (SFS) are not able to negotiate with families based on their assigned awards at other schools or on other criteria, but our financial aid counselors are always willing to have discussions with families who are concerned that they can’t afford MIT with the financial aid package they were offered.

How it works…

Each spring, SFS works to process financial aid awards for thousands of admitted students and our policy is to meet the full demonstrated financial need of all applicants.  To calculate their need, we must carefully look at each applicant and understand the challenges that they may face in affording an MIT education.

We use the MIT methodology to define and meet this need.  This approach was developed to get the most accurate picture of a family’s ability to pay for college. It includes information from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the College Scholarship Service PROFILE, tax records, and other documentation that a family may wish us to consider. Taking all this information into account we determine an Expected Family Contribution.  The Expected Family Contribution is subtracted from the cost of tuition, meals, housing and other fees to create the family’s financial need and their individual financial aid award.

We realize that once we receive all of the documentation for a student, it is only a snapshot of a student and their family at a certain point in time. There are times when SFS might not have the particulars of a family situation or do not have the full documentation on file.  This tends to be the case when a family’s financial situation has changed drastically and it was not adequately reflected in the most recent tax return.  For example, a parent loses a job, or unexpected medical bills have caused extraordinary expenses for the family.  When provided with new documentation, we are able to take a written appeal request to our Committee on Financial Aid, comprised of financial aid professionals within SFS, and make a new decision on the award if warranted.

While we don’t encourage students to appeal as a way to negotiate, we are always available to all students if they are experiencing financial difficulties.  SFS can help students find solutions and has a staff that is trained to listen and to suggest resources or financing strategies for families that they may not have considered on their own.