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Special Conditions

The U.S. Department of Education allows the Student Financial Services Office latitude in considering special circumstances not reflected on your FAFSA. Special circumstances that might call for our office’s professional judgment include loss or reduction of income, changes in family dynamics not shown on tax returns, and unreimbursed medical expenses.

Appeals

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 Financial Aid Office.

Examples include: death of a parent, loss of job, retirement, loss of income, divorce, etc. Please include supporting documentation as applicable.

Appeals will not be considered for circumstances that include, but are not limited to:
  • High consumer debt
  • Expenses that have not yet occurred
  • Other discretionary spending
  • Educational expenses for parent, siblings and/or other family members
  • Distributions from pension, IRA, 401k, life insurance, capital gains, etc.
  • Expenses for grandparents, relatives, siblings, children, and/or other expenses for non-immediate family members
  • Lifestyle expenses (pets, cars, housekeepers, vacations, weddings, home repairs, sports, discretionary dental/medical procedures, etc.)
  • Parent and/or step-parent unwilling to provide information on a financial aid application and/or assist in paying for college
  • Families with prior Special Conditions who underestimated their income

The special condition appeal decision is based on the circumstances detailed in the appeal form and on the additional documentation provided. Appeals will not be reviewed until all documentation is received. Students will be notified in writing of the decision within two weeks of the decision. The deadline to submit the appeal for the fall is July 15 and December 15 for the spring. 

Dependency Status

For the sole purpose of Financial Aid eligibility, dependency status 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 parent(s) live(s) 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 their assigned financial aid counselor directly for more information.