Many students feel they are independent because they currently live on their own or because their parents no longer claim them on their income taxes. Others feel they should be considered independent because their parents refuse to provide information on the FAFSA or because their parents cannot afford to help with college expenses. However, these reasons are not sufficient for an appeal.
Student Financial Assistance is required to consider parent information and expect a parental contribution for students who are not independent according to the U.S. Department of Education. Check out the video on this page or visit the U.S. Department of Education's Federal Student Aid website for more information about dependency status.
There are extenuating circumstances that may warrant a Dependency Override. Dependency Overrides may only be performed when adequate documentation of extenuating family circumstances exists. Extenuating circumstances are generally defined by students' inability to have contact with their parents.
The following conditions DO NOT qualify as extenuating circumstances according to the Department of Education:
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency
- Parents refuse to contribute to your education
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
If you have extenuating circumstances you may download and complete the Dependency Override online in the Student Financial Assistance forms library. Please submit all requested documentation with the form. Incomplete Dependency Overrides will not be processed.
Although the process of determining a student's eligibility for federal student aid is basically the same for all applicants, there is some flexibility for some circumstances.
A Special Circumstance Form may be processed for circumstances such as reduction or loss of employment/reduction or loss of taxed or untaxed income or benefit, legal separation or divorce after filing FAFSA, death of parent or spouse after filing FAFSA, significant medical expenses paid out of pocket (not reimbursed by insurance),etc.
Visit the Student Financial Assistance forms library for the application. Please submit all requested documentation with the form. Incomplete Special Conditions will not be processed. Submission of this form does not guarantee approval nor guarantee increased financial aid eligibility. The Special Circumstance Process is optional and may take several weeks to process.
A Special Condition will NOT be processed for any of the following:
- Loss of overtime or bonus pay
- Loss of income gained through gambling or lottery winnings
- Private school tuition
- Non-essential expenses (vacation, tithing, high mortgage payments, second vehicles, etc.)
- Standard living expenses (utilities, cable bills, credit card payments, cell phone, etc.)
- Standard maintenance items (lawn care, home repair, gas, etc.)
- Any circumstance experienced by the parent not listed on FAFSA
You may also check with your financial aid counselor if you feel you have special circumstances that might affect the amount you and your family are expected to contribute. But remember, there have to be very good reasons for your financial aid counselor to make any adjustments. Not all adjustments will change your financial aid eligibility and you'll have to provide adequate proof to support those adjustments. Also, remember that your financial aid counselor's decision is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.