Higher education is expensive, and many financial resources require a Statement of Financial Need when identifying applicants for scholarships and aid. Of course, as pointed out by a student on the forum "answers.yahoo.com," you can enclose the estimated financial contribution from the FAFSA application, but most scholarships and grants require personal statements as well. Requirements vary by scholarship and school, so how do you write a financial needs statement?
What Exactly is a Statement of Financial Need?
It is a short letter, usually about two or three paragraphs, that explains why you would benefit from being awarded a scholarship. This is not a debit-and-credit sheet such as the FAFSA application requires. The Statement of Financial Need should be concise and compelling.
Start With a Brief Introduction
First, list any special scholarship need groups to which you may belong. Are you the first in your family to go to college? This is the place to explain that. Are you from a disadvantaged family? Are you from an ethnic group that is under-represented at the school? In this introductory paragraph, you give the financial aid committee a picture of who you are.
Explain How You are Paying for College Now
Let them know you are not ignoring other sources of help. Tell the committee if you are working to help pay college expenses. Detail what steps you have already taken to pay for your education, such as 529 Savings Plan. This gives the scholarship committee a starting point from which to understand your financial situation.
Explain Difficulties You Are Having in Meeting Your Needs
A Statement of Financial Need should tell the committee why you are seeking aid. This is the place to talk about any changes that have occurred in your life that impact your ability to pay for your education. For instance, there may have been changes in your family's income, unanticipated expenses or a shortfall in your finances. In this area, you can also provide information to show that you handle funds responsibly. For instance, have you already paid for a semester, or a year, by your own efforts? If you broach this issue, though, include only information about education, and not about unrelated things like car loans.
Talk About How You Would Benefit From the Scholarship
This may seem obvious, but it is important for the committee to understand that you intend to make good use of the funding. According to the financial aid page at "umass.edu," this might include benefits like being able to concentrate on your studies by not spending so much time working. The funds might also allow you to take an unpaid internship required by your degree. In fact, the scholarship may make the difference between dropping out and finishing your studies. If that is the case, let the committee know.
Close In a Brief and Respectful Tone.
Do not beg. Avoid emotionalism. Let your tone be professional and polite.
Scholarships and financial aid are privileges, not inherent rights; the opportunities that these funds give students are invaluable. Schools and funding sources have a great responsibility in deciding to whom the awards should go. A Statement of Financial Need is one tool they use, and it is up to the student to make it as "sharp" as possible.