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    How to Write a Statement of Financial Need

    By Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman

    Gabriel Jimenez-Ekman is a content editor and writer at Scholarships360. He has managed communications and written content for a diverse array of organizations, including a farmer’s market, a concert venue, a student farm, an environmental NGO, and a PR agency. Gabriel graduated from Kenyon College with a degree in sociology.

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    and Savannah Dawson

    Prior to coming to Scholarships360 for her first internship in 2022, Savannah utilized her campus publications by joining various fashion publications that are offered at Ohio University. One of those publications is Thread Magazine, where Savannah has had the opportunity to work on articles related to world-wide related fashion news and events, as well as articles closer to home, such as a fashion piece on Athens hometown-hero Joe Burrow. This year, Savannah also had the opportunity to be a content writing intern for Aiken House, as well as a section editor for Southeast Ohio Magazine. In 2023, Savannah served as the Chapter President of her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta. These collective experiences, as well as her experience currently working for Ohio University’s Undergraduate Admissions, has led her to Scholarships360 and aided in her passion for helping students better understand the college admissions process and financial aid. In her free time, Savannah enjoys horseback riding, watching Formula One races, traveling, and spending time with her friends and family. Savannah will graduate from Ohio University in May 2024 with a degree in Journalism News and Information and a certificate in Italian Studies.

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    Reviewed by Caitlyn Cole

    Caitlyn Cole is a college access professional with a decade of experience in non-profit program and project management for college readiness and access organizations.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: January 30th, 2024
    How to Write a Statement of Financial Need

    Many students want to know how to write a statement of financial need since it is a challenge. Deciding what is appropriate to include or omit can make all the difference, so it’s also especially important that you use your words economically and effectively.

    What is a Statement of Financial Need?

    College is an investment, but for many students financial aid may not be enough to cover the cost. Because of this, students may find themselves needing to write a statement of financial need, which is a brief statement explaining your financial situation. Generally, the statement of financial need will go beyond what is captured by the FAFSA or CSS profile.

    In this article, we will provide a step-by-step guide to show you how to write a statement of financial need.

    How we organized this article

    We’ll start with a “Do’s and Don’ts” list. This list will answer questions you may have about which details to include in your statement. Once you’ve got an idea of what should be included, we’ll show you a general template for writing these statements, including some examples. This will help you illustrate your points thoroughly while staying under the word limit. We also included some relevant FAQs just in case you had a few more questions. 

    Related: Top need based scholarships

    What to include in your statement

    • A quick rundown of your family’s employment situation. This includes who in the family is working, what type of job they hold, and if you are working to help support your education or to help support your family
    • Whether you are a first-generation college student
    • If you or your parents are immigrants or refugees
    • Whether you or your parents speak English as a second language, or do not speak English at all
    • If you were raised by a single parent, or in a foster home
    • Any extenuating circumstances that could be affecting your family’s finances, such as medical issues or job loss. Any recent shortfall in your family’s financial situation is worth mentioning
    • If you are a member of any minority group (for many colleges, recruiting underrepresented students is an institutional priority as they seek to create a diverse community).
    • Opportunities that you would be able to accept if the scholarship helped meet your financial need. An example would be if you are pursuing an unpaid or low-paying internship over the summer, but needed to earn money to help pay for next semester’s tuition

    What to avoid in your statement

    • Try to avoid a negative or dramatic tone. Even if your financial situation is stressful, try not to communicate that stress in your statement. It’s best to let the facts speak for themselves
    • Avoid comparing your situation with the situations of others. Remember, this essay is about you, and why someone in your situation could benefit from the scholarship
    • Avoid focusing too much on tangential details. Try to only include the details that are immediately relevant to your ability to further your education. For example, if your family has experienced a financial shortfall because your father lost his job, you don’t need to go into details of your father’s business or his chance of being re-hired. You need only to mention that it has led to your family receiving less than their projected income for the year, and that this impacts your ability to pay for college

    Related: What’s the best scholarship essay format?

    Now that you know what to include in your essay, you’re ready to start writing your statement of financial need. This can be done by following a step-by-step process:

    • Create an outline
    • Write your introduction
    • Format your essay with body paragraphs
    • Finish with a strong conclusion

    Let’s get started with the first step…

    Create an outline

    To get started with your outline, try writing out a bullet-point list of the details you’d like to include in your essay. Include all of the details that emphasize your financial need. This includes demographic information, your parents’ employment, and any extenuating circumstances your family is experiencing. Once you have that list, use it as a guide to help format the statement of financial need.

    See also: How to write a 250 word essay

    Write your introduction

    In your first sentence, introduce yourself by touching on some key demographic points about yourself. For example, you could write:

    “As a first-generation college student who was raised by a single parent, I have worked as a cashier throughout high school to help pay the bills.”

    These are all points that do not require too much elaboration. They can be brought up together in the first sentence to give the reader an idea of what they will be reading. Use the rest of the introduction to quickly lay out the discussion points, saving the detail for later.

    Related: How to start a scholarship essay

    Formatting your essay with body paragraphs

    Body paragraphs are your opportunity to dive into the relevant details. Elaborate on the points that you mentioned in the introduction to give a more vivid picture of why you are having trouble paying for your education. These include extenuating circumstances, parents’ employment status, and your employment status.

    In addition, you can use these paragraphs to help illustrate your sense of financial responsibility. If you have a college savings account or have taken initiatives to help yourself secure the funds for college, mention them here. Emphasize that there is still a gap between what you are expected to pay and what you are able to pay.

    Also see: How to write a financial aid appeal letter

    Finish with a strong conclusion

    Now is the time to discuss how the increased funding would create opportunities for you. You can mention the internship that you would take if you didn’t have to work all summer to pay your tuition, or describe how one of your other financial hardships would be lightened by receiving this scholarship.

    The conclusion is where you make the scholarship committee realize what they could do for you by granting you the scholarship; once you’ve established your need, use the conclusion to illustrate how important this opportunity is to you. We hope that you now know how to write a statement of financial need. Best of luck!

    Submitting your statement of financial need is not a guarantee of more aid

    We should also mention that submitting your statement of financial need is no guarantee that you will receive more financial aid. While students can be hopeful that they will receive an adjusted aid package, they should be prepared for their situation not changing. 

    In this case, students can turn to options like scholarships, student loans, or choosing a more affordable college option. 

    See also: What to do if financial aid is not enough?

    Key Takeaways

    Key Takeaways

    • A Statement of Financial Need can be beneficial for students who know they may not be able to afford college
    • Always try to be positive when writing your Statement of Financial Need
    • Structure your statement in an easy to read, concise way
    Key Takeaways

    Frequently asked questions about how to write a statement of financial need

    How is financial need determined?

    First and foremost, you have to fill out the FAFSA, or the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is how all of the colleges that you apply for can see approximately how much they are able to give you in scholarships and financial aid. This is also necessary when applying for loans and grants.

    Every school is different when determining the financial need of their students. Some schools give much more money in financial aid than others do. It is best to reach out to your school of choice to see what they can offer!

    What is proof of need?

    Generally this will include some sort of statement saying how much money your family makes, such as pay stubs or a bank statement. Proof of need can also include the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which essentially means how much you and your family will actually be able to contribute towards your tuition.

    What documents can be used in a statement of financial need?

    Some documents that show evidence of financial need are bank statements, documentation from a sponsor, financial aid letters, or a letter from an employer showing annual salary.

    How long should a Statement of Financial need be?

    A statement of financial need does not need to be long by any means. If you can get your point across and share all of the necessary information in 150 to 300 words, do that. If you have to go over by a few words, that is completely fine– just try not to make it too long.

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