While our office is required to adhere to federal guidelines dictating the process by which we award aid (e.g., our utilization of cost of attendance, Expected Family Contribution, need, and eligibility requirements), sometimes we may apply professional judgment and alter a student’s budget or the data used in the calculation of a student’s Expected Family Contribution. The request for consideration of a special circumstance is a type of appeal, and our office's decision is final. The main categories of special circumstances are as follows:
A student can use this appeal to document expenses they have incurred beyond what has already been budgeted in their cost of attendance. Categories may include; the purchase of a personal computer, additional direct educational expenses, costs for dependent care and excessive housing or transportation costs. There is also a parent special circumstances form which can be utilized to document changes in financial situation.
Change in Financial Situation
If a student and/or parent has experienced a situation that has altered their financial profile from that which is reflected on the current academic year's FAFSA they may file an appeal. Categories may include; a significant decrease in income for student and/or parent, a loss of Social Security benefits or other untaxed income for student and/or parent, a married student's or parent's becoming separated, divorced or widowed since filing the FAFSA or for parent's of a dependent student who have enrolled in a full-time degree seeking program.
Students who do not meet the federal definition of an independent student, but who have extraordinary circumstances, beyond their control, which have resulted in an irretrievable breakdown in the student-parent relationship may be eligible to appeal their dependency status.
Please note that none of the following conditions qualify as unusual circumstances to make a dependency override.
- Parents refuse to contribute to your education
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for Verification
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes; or
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency
However, unusual circumstances do include an abusive family environment or abandonment by parents.