Davidson is intentional in awarding need-based and scholarship aid, meeting 100% of a student’s calculated financial need. However, in certain instances—and particularly if a family is experiencing COVID-related challenges—it may be appropriate to request a Financial Aid Appeal.

Reasons to Appeal Your Financial Aid Offer

Please read the information in this section to better understand what situations warrant a financial aid appeal.

Situations That Warrant a Financial Aid Appeal

  • Error: An error was made on the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile.
  • Substantial Change in Family Circumstances: Your family’s circumstances have changed substantially since the calendar year for which income was reported on the FAFSA and CSS Profile.
  • Situation Beyond Family Control with Significant Financial Impact: A situation exists that is beyond your family’s control and has significant financial impact that you believe the initial aid-eligibility calculation does not adequately address.

Situations That Do Not Warrant a Financial Aid Appeal

  • Negotiating a better offer: We are not able to negotiate; we simply offer need-based aid in response to the information a family supplies regarding income, assets, and who’s in your family’s household.
  • Asking that we match an aid offer from another school: We do not match aid offers.
  • Requesting scholarship aid: Our limited scholarship funds are awarded independently of the need-based financial aid application process, through a detailed and rigorous effort that is completed prior to financial aid awards being offered each spring.
  • Disputing Davidson’s method of determining aid eligibility: We use the CSS Profile and our own carefully developed policies to determine eligibility for need-based institutional aid; in fairness to all applicants, we do not modify our methods to meet individual requests.

Circumstances That Can Often Be Taken into Account on Appeal, Especially if Financial Impact is Significant

  • Involuntary loss or reduction of regular employment income
  • Involuntary loss or reduction of untaxed income/benefits
  • Unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 10% of a family’s income, as itemized on a Schedule A
  • Unreimbursed expenses related to a natural disaster
  • Death of a parent

Circumstances That Generally Cannot Be Taken into Account on Appeal, Even if Financial Impact is Significant

  • Voluntary loss or reduction of employment income: This is generally addressed once the relevant tax year is reported on the FASFA and CSS Profile;
  • Decrease in regularly fluctuating sources of income: Such as business earnings, bonuses, commissions—these situations are generally addressed once the relevant tax year is reported on the FASFA and CSS Profile.
  • One-time sources of income: Because we assess only a portion of total income in any event, in most cases we do not ignore one-time income.
  • Recent divorce/separation of parents: Since we ask for a contribution from both biological/adoptive parents regardless of their marital status relative to each other, a recent divorce/separation is not apt to substantially affect the financial aid we award.
  • Change in asset values since the FAFSA and Profile were submitted: Assets are considered as a “snapshot in time” and are not updated until the next year’s application is filed;
  • Students seeking to declare themselves independent of their parents: Generally students are considered independent only if they meet one or more of the dependency criteria listed on the FAFSA.

Appeal Submissions and Decisions

Please read the information in this section to learn more about how to apply for a financial aid appeal and what to expect after you have submitted your appeal.

Deadline for Submitting an Appeal

  • Admitted Students: Appeals from admitted students, regardless of whether they applied early or regular decision, will be entertained beginning in April. Appeals should be submitted by April 15 to maximize the chances of receiving an appeal decision before May 1.
    • Note: Except in extraordinary circumstances, appeals submitted after April will be processed only if they are submitted before the start date of the term for which assistance is requested. In other words, appeals will generally not be granted retroactively for a semester that has already begun and for which any balance due should already have been paid.
  • Enrolled Students: Except in extraordinary circumstances, appeals will be processed only if they are submitted before the start date of the term for which assistance is requested. As noted above, appeals will generally not be granted retroactively for a semester that has already begun and for which any balance due should already have been paid.

Process for Submitting an Appeal

  • Entering Students:
    • Early Decision applicants – Because an early decision offer of admission is binding, we encourage students to use the Net Price Calculator (NPC) before applying for admission, as the NPC provides an estimate of a family’s expected financial commitment.  We urge students to select the early decision option only if they feel confident they have entered their data accurately and are comfortable with the NPC results.  Thus, while appeals are possible for those admitted under the early decision plan, as noted above, all entering-student appeals will be processed after April 1.  The appeals of regular decision students will be handled first, to ensure that those students needing to make an enrollment decision by May 1 have their appeal results before then. Handling all entering-student appeals at the same time allows us to apply consistent standards to all appeals.
    • Regular Decision applicants – We strongly encourage that students applying under the regular decision plan who feel the need to appeal their aid awards do so before paying the enrollment deposit. Those who plan to appeal after paying the enrollment deposit should be prepared for both a delayed appeal decision and the possibility that the award may not change on appeal (see “What to Expect…” section).
  • All Students:
    • When submitting a Financial Aid Appeal, please be sure to provide official documentation of your application error or special circumstance.  Adjustments can only be made with supporting documentation.
    • For appeals relating to decreased income in the calendar year immediately following that reported on the FAFSA and Profile, please ensure that, if not already submitted, one of your uploaded documents is a copy of parent(s)’ complete federal tax return (including all schedules, W-2s, and 1099s) for the year of decreased income.
    • You may securely upload at least one and up to three separate PDFs with your appeal form.

What to Expect After Submitting an Appeal

  • Financial Aid staff will generally be able to provide a response within 10 business days of your submitting the appeal form.  (Please note that it may take longer if the Financial Aid Office needs additional supporting documentation from you.)
  • Our first communication after confirming receipt of your appeal will either provide an immediate decision or a sense of when a decision may be reached. For example:
    • Admitted regular decision students who submit appeals before paying their enrollment deposit will generally receive the results of their appeal before their deposit due date, assuming they submit their request by April 15.
    • Entering students who submit appeals after paying their enrollment deposit will have their appeals reviewed either in April or (depending on date of submission) when other already enrolled students are also eligible to appeal, beginning in mid-June.
    • Returning students who appeal before they have received an initial financial aid offer will have their appeals reviewed sometime after we issue offers for all on-time applicants, beginning in mid-June and continuing into July.
  • We cannot guarantee that all appeals will be successful or that all successful appeals will result in increased grant aid. Sometimes there is no aid eligibility, or no increased eligibility, even after an appeal.
  • Most appeal-related adjustments are fairly modest. We have finite financial aid resources; and because we tend to use them primarily to meet students’ calculated need with our initial aid offers—without awarding loans—we have limited funds available for appeals. However, we will always do what we can to be helpful within those limitations.
  • Once we are able to consider your appeal formally, we will issue a decision as soon as we can.  While spring and summer are particularly busy times in the Financial Aid Office, to the extent possible (given our other responsibilities and deadlines), we will attempt to be sensitive to students’ understandable desire to hear their appeal results prior to their enrollment deposit dates, billing due dates, or other key deadlines.

After an Appeal Decision is Made

  • Appeal decisions will be made for the full academic year and are considered final.  We are not able to provide any further consideration of the family contribution unless there is a new and substantial change in family circumstances not addressed in the original appeal.
  • Appeal decisions are communicated via e-mail and, given their confidential nature, are sent only to the individual who submitted the appeal.
  • If you wish to explore various methods of meeting your family contribution, our website contains information about loans or other sources of funding.  We are also happy to discuss the details of payment plans and other financing options.

Contact Our Office

Please feel free to contact our office for more information if you have questions after reviewing the information provided. You can schedule a meeting with us or reach out to us through email or by phone.