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College Prep Writing

Academic Appeal Letter

A letter of appeal is a request for reconsideration. In academic situations, a student might appeal a course grade, an inadequate financial aid award, a denial of financial aid, an unfavorable admissions decision, probation or a warning for unsatisfactory academic progress, or dismissal from college. Appeals are not restricted to academia, however; letters may be submitted to appeal a denial of coverage by an insurance company, an unfavorable decision by the Internal Revenue Service, a denial of Social Security disability benefits, and more.

Carefully follow directions

If instructions are provided on how to appeal a decision or action by an academic institution or other organization, follow those directions carefully. Students may also check with a college counselor or adviser about the procedure for filing an appeal, and this kind of information may also be posted on a college website. Websites are usually a source for any special forms required, and the kinds of appeals that will not be considered may be announced here. Find out whom an appeal should be sent to, as well as important deadlines. Sometimes it is a committee and not a single individual who should be the recipient of an appeal. That may also be learned on a website.

Advantages of a written appeal

A well-written appeal is always more effective than an oral appeal. It is easy to ignore or brush off an oral appeal; a written appeal almost demands a response. Also, a written appeal allows you to state exactly what you want to say to the person responsible for a decision. An anxious appellant may not include all the important points he or she wants to make in an oral appeal, unintentionally omitting an important point due to the tension of the moment. A written appeal also provides a record, and putting the necessary time and effort into an appeal letter shows you are interested and sincere, and that the appeal is not a casual matter.

The Appeal Letter

Start your letter by stating its purpose, and clearly and concisely indicate the issue or problem.

Next, describe the circumstances surrounding the decision you are appealing. If you believe a decision by a teacher or a college committee was an error, explain that and attach any documents to demonstrate it. For example, if you were sent a notice of unsatisfactory academic progress that you believe should have been sent to a student with whom you share the same surname, indicate that and submit tests or test scores to back up your point.

Introduce new information that might affect the decision you are appealing. This might be an explanation of the efforts you have made to change your study habits, or the help you have received from a tutor, or an improvement in your grades. Also, describe the purpose of any documentation you have enclosed with your appeal letter. If you have notes on a telephone discussion with someone who is involved in an appeal issue, include those as well.

Finally, make a favorable impression by formatting your appeal letter correctly and by keeping it brief and concise.

Sample appeal letters

An appeal to a dean for a grade change.

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An appeal for additional financial aid.

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