What is a statement of financial need?

A Statement of Financial Need is a document that students write to ask for financial aid such as grants or scholarships. Since numerous students apply to different prospective financiers, your document should stand out from the rest.

The fact that university education has become expensive cannot be overemphasized. With dwindling fortunes, many students need another source of funding than their employment, parents, and guardians.

The statement is a brief document, usually a few paragraphs long. It is addressed to universities, government agencies, and private organizations. Learn how to write an effective statement that will secure you financial aid.

Write a Brief, Strong Introduction

Treat this letter as you would treat a physical interview. Start with a strong first impression. As you introduce yourself, attract the attention of the readers with straightforward language. Explain the disadvantages that you come across daily.

Let the readers know who you are and why you are seeking financial support. This is the place to mention your shortcomings such as being a member of a disadvantaged group, refugee, ethnicity, physical disability, and illness among others.

Highlight how you have been struggling with paying school fees. Make them aware that you have exhausted all other avenues of finding financial help. If you are working to offset your school fees, mention this here.

Explain Challenges Clearly

As you are competing with other needy students, explain why you are the best candidate for help. According to Amherst College, the main purpose of a Statement of Financial Need is to win the admiration of readers. In details, explain the challenges that you have faced.

The loss of a parent or breadwinner is an ideal reason to seek financial need. Another reason may be your (or your guardian’s) loss of employment. Discuss any unanticipated expenses in your life or family. Specifically, detail any significant shortfalls in your family’s income.

Explain what your parents or guardians do for a living. If your other siblings are in school too, account for this fact clearly. Let the financier know the direct impact of your challenges to your education.

However, do not write falsehoods, as any lies will be discovered later and duly punished. It pays, to be honest and to show the panelists that you have tried to solve your challenges.

Describe how you will benefit from the financial support. While this sounds obvious, it is prudent for the funding authority to know the impact of their aid. To highlight this, consider sending copies of your degree certificate or transcripts later and a thank-you message.

Any financier would feel obliged to support a bright student. Therefore, let them know that you are a performer. You may attach copies of term transcripts as evidence of your claims. If you perform poorly, you could mention that your failure to pay school fees was the reason.

The following are important things to do when writing a Statement of Financial Need.

  • Express genuine enthusiasm with your letter
  • Make a careful selection of words and phrases
  • Let the panel know that you anticipate their reply soon
  • Avoid any negative information that may portray you in bad light
  • Mention any clubs and societies of which you are a member
  • Show respect for the prospective financier
  • Highlight your past ability to spend funds reasonably

Plan Ahead

Exactly what is a Statement of Financial Need? Many students fail to secure scholarships and grants because of poor timing. To succeed, maintain an accurate calendar of various deadlines for application of scholarships.

Proper timing increases the chances of your application being read by the scholarships committee. Learn as many details as possible on the prospective financier. More importantly, read and understand the provisions of their financial support.

When you know the audience of your statement of financial need, you will address them appropriately. Ensure that your letter meets the demands or objectives stipulated by the scholarships committee.

Highlight Your Strengths

According to the University of Canberra, financiers are confident when sponsoring a gifted or active student. For this reason, describe your entire prowess in extracurricular activities after explaining academic strengths. A good example is a sports activity where you represented your school or college.

Also, mention your previous participation in community activities. These may include visits to child orphanages, assisting senior citizens and other actions of social responsibility.

Avoid sounding desperate. While you should use polite language, do not sound as though you are begging. Using emotional language may work against you. More importantly, show optimism and confidence that you will overcome your inadequacies.

Remember that a scholarship or grant is a privilege, and not a right. Therefore, use a polite yet professional tone. Do not mock other applicants or your audience. Instead, express respect for competitors and admiration for top performing students in your university.

Let the readers know specific benefits of the expected funding. For example, tell them that the financial support will give you peace of mind and that you will concentrate better in class.

Also, let them know that you will spend less time working. This, in turn, keeps you focused on academics.

Attach Supporting Documents

Increase the credibility of the claims in your Statement of Financial Need. Attach your resume, academic transcripts, certificates of participation and any other documents that you deem necessary.

Attach whatever reasonable papers to compel the potential financier to support you.

Ask people who know you well to write letters of recommendation. These may be your lecturers, supervisors at work and faith leaders among others. Do not procrastinate on this request. Instead, contact them early so that they have ample time to describe you best.

Do not overwhelm your audience with too much information. Remember that they have hundreds or even thousands of applications to read and shortlist. Therefore, be as concise and as straightforward as possible.

Before submitting the statement, ensure that its supporting documents are updated. This means that the application needs meticulous preparation. Read as many resources as possible on what is a Statement of Financial Need.

Find inspiration from Statements of Financial Need written by successful applicants in the past. The fact that your previous application was declined should not discourage you from writing another.


Throughout the letter, use simple yet kind vocabulary. A short and polite letter makes more impact than a lengthy or repetitive one. A real conclusion makes the reader understand your needs and patience to receive the desired aid.

Do not be in a hurry to write and submit, as you may fail to include important details. Proofread the letter severally. Detect and correct all grammatical errors. Let a friend proofread it as well and consider his or her opinion.

Just before sending it, use the following checklist-

  • Clear introduction of yourself
  • Challenges that you currently face
  • How you have tried to solve some of these challenges
  • Past academic success
  • Past extracurricular activities
  • Talents and unique gifts
  • How the financial aid will help you achieve specific objectives
  • Polite conclusion

Lastly, submit the Statement of Financial Need on time. Send the letter via a suitable channel such as email, post office or hand delivery. After that, pay close attention to your email, physical mail box and telephone for feedback.​