Appealing Your Decision: Rejections, Waitlists, and Financial Aid


As college admissions decisions roll in this spring, it can be an emotional time. There can be excitement, anxiety, disappointment, or joy; and often it’s more than one of these feelings at once. At Cultivate, we know that the most important values to uphold during college admissions are intentionality, reflection, open-mindedness,
resilience, expression, engagement, balance, and confidence.

We refer to these principles as the Cultiv8. To ensure the greatest chances of success during a student’s college admissions journey, it’s critical to practice each one of these values. One of these values, resilience, is especially important to practice if students are waitlisted, wish to appeal their admissions decision or require additional financial aid. If a student wishes to appeal their waitlist or admission status, there are some
important things to understand before submitting additional information to colleges.

A waitlist letter should be written if a student is sure they will attend that university if taken off the waitlist and accepted. Students should provide the admissions officers with anything that wasn’t on the original application that could help boost the chances of admission. These could be recent grades, extracurricular achievements, or new awards earned during the semester. Only things earned since originally applying should be included. It’s important to maintain a positive and polite voice in this letter. Demonstrate to colleges your drive and commitment to attend their school. Show them why you’d be an asset to their university and what you could contribute if admitted.

If a student would like to submit a letter appealing to a rejection, similar things should be mentioned. Anything not submitted in the original application that can help you stand out or improve your resume can be highly valuable. Make sure to submit data and proof of your achievements in addition to the letter. This adds credibility and shows admissions officers that you are serious and organized. Students should understand that appeal letters are less likely to be accepted compared to waitlist letters.

However, if a student has accomplishments or accolades that were earned after submitting the original application, chances of reconsideration are much higher. Providing new information should be the main reason a student appeals, rather than asking for reconsideration based solely upon a desire to attend. If a student would like to appeal their financial aid determination, the process is a little different. Students should first find out how the school they are reaching out to handles financial aid appeals. The process varies greatly from school to school, and following directions is critical to your credibility and chances of reconsideration.

Students should look up who is in charge of financial appeals and address their letter to them personally. This approach shows intentionality and adds a much more personal touch. It’s also important for students to appeal their financial aid decision as soon as possible. Schools often have a finite amount of financial aid to give, and once it’s gone, it’s gone. The last thing to consider before writing an appeal letter is how much you plan on asking for. Try asking admissions officers the average amount typically granted for financial aid appeals. Another strategic approach is calculating the exact number you need to make attendance possible. This way you let the college know you are all in if it’s financially possible.

Like an admissions appeal, students must provide as much documentation as possible that supports their case. If you need assistance in preparing an appeal letter, contact your Cultivate Coach today. We are here to help you stay resilient and fight for reconsideration!