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hardshipA 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. hardship

When contemplating to write a hardship letter, a lot of people do not know where to start, or how personal to get. Another common issue comes up when someone writes a hardship letter as you would an informal letter to a friend or relative. Despite the fact that a hardship letter is personal, it still has to have a specific formal structure to it and some particular content requirements need to be considered as well.

Steps for Writing a Hardship Letter

  1. 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 a maximum of three main reasons and make a short outline of each in your draft. An outline maker can be a useful tool to organize your thoughts and structure your arguments effectively.
  2. Decide to whom you need to address this letter. It is sometimes acceptable, but never 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.
  3. Create a specific form for your hardship letter. You can 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.
  4. Write an introduction, specifying clearly and precisely the purpose of your letter. Such an introduction normally consists of one sentence, in which you explain exactly what your request is and the main reason for it.
  5. 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.
  6. Write the concluding part, where you restate your request and ask for understanding and cooperation to assist in alleviating your hardship.
  7. 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 grammatical, 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 facts rather than emotions and feelings.
  • Respect the recipient’s time. 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.
  • Give your hardship letter to a friend or relative you can trust to read with healthy criticism. If they still can’t be objective, find through the best writing essay service reviews that can help you proofread your text and provide an unbiased opinion.

Do and Don’t


  • Do be modest and sincere about your reasons and motives.
  • Do practice writing the introductory sentence a few times before you settle with the most suitable version of it, since it is crucial to properly formulate your request and present the reason for it.
  • Do maintain an appropriate distance between yourself and whoever you are addressing. While trying to personalize your letter of hardship, manage to keep it between you as an employee/loaner/seller, and the recipient as an employer/mortgage/agent/broker, not just between one person and another.
  • Do be precise and give enough information when you make a point. Make sure it will be clear to a person who has not been previously acquainted with you and your life circumstances.

  • Don’t use general phrases and clichés you have seen other people use in their hardship letters that have been posted online as free samples. Express yourself in your own manner and you have a much better chance of being listened to.
  • Don’t put forward too many reasons or points, as well as don’t exaggerate the hardships that you have faced or are facing. Keep the limit to a maximum of three, but even better, two reasons. Above all, your hardship letter has to sound realistic and sincere—more like a real-life story than a soap-opera scenario.
  • Don’t write your hardship letter without a plan or draft on the first attempt. If your letter sounds like you have not put more than 10 minutes into writing it, with one thought overlapping the other and the whole document being anything but organized, then you are unlikely to have your request granted.

Common Mistakes

  • 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, and organized as if it were an expository essay. Start each paragraph by stating 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.
  • Writing a manuscript-size hardship letter. Remember to respect the recipient’s time and choose only the main reasons that were the strongest leading factors in your hardship situation.
  • Formatting the header incorrectly, since it reveals your inattentiveness to the reader to the matter right from the start. Keep in mind that the form and format of your letter are as important as the content of it.

Now that you have acquainted yourself with the basic hardship letter writing tips and rules, you can check out our hardship letter samples to link theory with practice.

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Samples for Writing a Hardship Letter

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