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BLOG | How to petition for more financial aid

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The 3.5 percent tuition increase that was announced last month has left many students wondering if they can continue to attend Mills. As the semester winds down, you may be considering transferring to a more affordable option or looking into more dreaded loans. Before you do that, let me remind you of some awesome problem-solving skills that we Mills students have.

When we wanted the shuttle to stay out later, what did we do? We petitioned. When we wanted Founders to stop putting that gross jam all over the berries at brunch, what did we do? WE PETITIONED.

So why not petition for more financial aid? Many students are unaware of this option, yet it can yield real results — some students reported receiving up to $5,000 more in financial aid in one year. Here’s your step-by-step guide to a simple process that could help keep you at Mills.

      1. Download and print the Financial Petition Form. You can also find it by searching “Financial Petition” in the search bar on the Mills homepage.

      2. In Section I of the form, fill out your basic personal information. The form will ask you to identify the reason for your petition: “late registration fee,” “late Confirmation of Semester Attendance fee,” “late payment fee” or “other.” You must also note the academic term during which the fee was.

      3. Section II provides a space to explain your petition. Here, you can explain any family, financial or medical issues that may affect your ability to pay your tuition or other fees. Some examples include: having a physical disability or injury that prevents you from working, being a parent or guardian or having siblings also in college. Don’t worry if you run out of space — you can attach additional pages.

      4. Include any supporting documentation, such as medical records, pay stubs or W2 forms, or bills that may show your other expenses.

      5. Sign and turn in the form at the M Center. Rather than a single deadline, there is a deadline every week: Thursday at noon. This means that if you miss your deadline this week, you can still turn it in by next Thursday. Or the Thursday after that. Or the one after that one. Or the…okay, you get the idea.

Remember that you can only petition for the current semester, and that you are not allowed to appeal the same charge a second time after the Financial Petition Committee has made a decision unless you provide new information, such as a new medical record or a more recent pay stub.

Once you submit your form, it will be reviewed by the Financial Petition Committee, which meets on a weekly basis if necessary throughout the school year (Aug. through May). Now you can relax–and by relax, I clearly mean sit at your laptop and refresh your email every five minutes until you get their response.

You may not get $5,000 — hell, you may get nothing. You may decide that you really can’t afford to stay at Mills. But being a surprisingly simple process, petitioning doesn’t hurt.

Sure got that jam off of the berries.