The U.S. Department of Education gives the College Student Financial Services Office latitude in considering special circumstances not reflected on the FAFSA. Special circumstances that might call for the Student Financial Services Office’s professional judgment include loss or reduction of income, changes in family dynamics not shown on tax returns, and unreimbursed medical expenses.
If there are circumstances not reflected on the FAFSA that will directly affect your family’s ability to contribute towards the cost of your education, we may be able to help! Students with extenuating circumstances should explain those details in writing with the Student Financial Services Office.
Examples include: death of a parent, loss of job, retirement, loss of income, divorce, etc. Please include supporting documentation as applicable.
A committee reviews appeals weekly, and it will send you a response 5–10 business days after review.
We prefer to receive appeals via email. Please forward your appeal letter to firstname.lastname@example.org, and be sure it includes your (the student’s) name and ID number.
Dependency Status, for the sole purpose of Financial Aid eligibility, is strictly determined by the Department of Education. You can find information about what qualifies a dependent vs. independent student on the FAFSA help page.
The Department of Education has given financial aid administrators the authority to “override” a student’s dependency status from dependent to independent in cases involving extreme extenuating circumstances.
The following conditions do not qualify as unusual circumstances, either individually or in combination:
- Parents who refuse to contribute, are unwilling to provide information, or do not claim the student as an income tax dependent
- A student who demonstrates total self-sufficiency
- A student whose parents live in another country.
Situations that might warrant a dependency override include:
- The student’s voluntary or involuntary removal from the parents’ home due to an abusive situation that threatened the student’s safety and/or health
- The student’s abandonment by parents
- A student’s inability to locate the parents.
Please note that a student applying for a dependency override will be asked to provide a personal statement along with documentation from two professional third parties confirming the circumstances.
Students who believe they may qualify for an override should contact our office directly for more information.