Friday, November 18, Letters of Recommendation: The other day after class, one of my students asked me about letters of recommendation. Oddly enough, she didn't want to ask me to write for her, rather, she wanted to know what she should give her writers to help them write the best letter possible. It's a great question.
Students often need to go into huge debt to be able to attend the college or university of their choice. The student needs to show why they need the money, what they plan to do with it and how it will be beneficial to their college career. The letter should have a professional tone, so the student demonstrates that he or she is organized, flexible and financially savvy.
The letter needs to give all the information the financial officer or individual needs to justify giving aid. It can be sent separately from their financial aid application or admission packet and outline the unusual circumstances in their life that makes them request more aid.
They should call the financial aid office and get any instructions, forms or rules for applying for additional assistance, and request a meeting with the financial officer. It should contain specific details about why the student needs additional help. This may be because of loss of job, because they needed to quit their job to help a disabled family member, or because their parent who was paying for their tuition can no longer do so.
The student should give facts and numbers that support their claim. This would include the cost of the college tuition and the amount they have to give towards it. They can also include any plans to get a job in the future and if they need help with other things such as room, board and textbooks.
They should provide contact information and express that they are willing to discuss their situation with the individual or representative of the institution to come to an agreement to get the help they need. If the letter is to the financial aid office of their college, it should mention any financial aid they are already receiving from the college.
The letter should be in formal business format with correct spelling and grammar. If any financial or bank statements are enclosed, they should be copies and not original documents.
The letter should be sent by certified mail, so the student is sure it was received. Sample Tuition Assistance Letter.Best Practices Guide for Grant Writing By Bridget Newell, Ph.D.
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