How to Write a Hardship Letter
A hardship letter, or letter of hardship, is a personal letter you write to explain your difficulty in order to qualify for a benefit, to waive a fee, or have a change in scene. There are various situations in which a hardship letter is required, and there are some specific points to consider in each of the cases below.
- Mortgage overdue hardship letter
- Short-sale hardship letter
- Job transfer hardship letter
- Loan modification hardship letter
There are also some other situations when a hardship letter can be written. However, these are the most common cases, and the rest can relate to the above types of hardship letters.
When contemplating writing a hardship letter, a lot of people often do not know where to start, or how personal to get. This often leads to a failure to compose a successful hardship letter and have your expressed request granted. Another common mistake is to write a hardship letter as you would a regular informal letter to a friend or relative. Despite the fact that a hardship letter is always personal, it still has to have a specific formal structure to it and some peculiar content requirements need to be considered as well.
Steps for Writing a Hardship Letter
- Think of the problem you are faced with and try to single out the reasons that help you qualify for a certain benefit or may excuse a certain breach. Try to limit your choice to two, or maximum three main reasons and make a short outline of each in your draft.
- Decide to whom you need to address this letter. It is sometimes acceptable, but never really advantageous to address your letter “to whom it may concern”. Instead, aim at making your appeal as personal as possible, if you want your attempt to have a better chance of succeeding.
- Create a specific form for your hardship letter. You may get acquainted with our hardship letter samples to see the way your header, format and signature need to look depending on the particular case and the kind of hardship letter you are writing.
- Write an introduction, specifying clearly and laconically the purpose of your letter. Such an introduction normally consists of just one sentence, in which you explain exactly what your request is and the main reason for it.
- Write the main body of your hardship letter, following the outline prepared earlier, and elaborate on each point (reason) in a short paragraph. The main body of a hardship letter is usually two to three paragraphs long, and no more.
- Write the concluding part, where you restate your request and ask for understanding and cooperation to assist in alleviating your hardship.
- Do a thorough proofreading of your letter to make sure every statement you make is transparent, understandable and logical, as well as check your writing for any grammar, spelling or punctuation mistakes.
Key Points to Consider
- When it comes to a hardship letter, your tone and attitude are crucial. You need to find a balance between asking for assistance or a favor, and sounding too humble and desperate. Try to present the facts rather than emotions and feelings. After all, it is formal writing style that a hardship letter calls for, and you are appealing to the professional status of the person you are addressing, rather than their personal characteristics.
- Respecting the recipient’s time is another important tip. Keep your statements short and concise, and do not go into unnecessary details and explanations. Make sure your letter is no more than 1 page long (500-550 words single-spaced).
- Using simple language and personalizing your hardship letter is also important when you want to win somebody’s favor, and have your request granted. Do not try to sound too sophisticated, or show off how indispensable an employee you are. If this is in fact so, your employer will surely be aware of the fact.
- It is a prudent idea to give your hardship letter to a friend or relative you can trust to read with healthy criticism. Getting objective feedback about how well you managed to express your request is always a useful means of finessing your hardship letter before sending it forward.
Dos and Don’ts
- Writing your main body as if it were a grocery list, just naming the reasons for your hardship one-by-one in every other sentence. Your hardship letter has to have a well-balanced main body, organized just as if it were an expository essay. Start each paragraph by naming the reason that lead to your hardship, then explain what caused this reason in the following sentence and then show exactly how it affected your situation. Conclude the paragraph by either underlining how unavoidable the cause was or indicating how much damage it caused.
- Copying from pre-made hardship letter templates available online. Even if your story seems just the same as described in the sample letter you found over the Internet, do not yield to the temptation of copying from it in any way. There is a chance somebody has already done that and seeming to be hypocritical, lying or plagiarizing in your hardship letter is the worst kind of mistake that you can make.
- Writing a manuscript-size hardship letter is also a likely guarantee of failure. Remember to respect the recipient’s time and choose only the main reasons that were the strongest leading factors in your hardship situation. Make absolutely sure not to go over the limit of 550 words so as not to trap yourself into making this mistake.
- Formatting the header wrongly is another serious mistake, since it reveals to the reader your negligence or inattentiveness to the matter right from the start. Keep in mind that the form and format of your letter are just as important as the content of it. Take your time to check samples of properly formatted hardship letters and make sure your letter meets the general requirements.
Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic hardship letter writing tips and rules, you can check out our best hardship letter samples to link theory with practice.