Federal financial aid is based on a formula created by the U.S. Department of Education to determine a
Expected Family Contribution, or EFC. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) uses
income information to determine your EFC and eligibility for federal financial aid (grants, loans,
After filing the FAFSA, some families realize that their EFC may not adequately reflect the family’s
financial situation due to extenuating circumstances. The federal government allows schools to review a
unique circumstances, beyond the student’s/family’s control, to determine if the situation warrants
Please note that a request for consideration of a special/unusual circumstance appeal does not guarantee
addition, even if approved, a recalculation of FAFSA data does not always result in increased
eligibility for the
Special/Unusual circumstances may include (but are not limited to):
- Loss/Change of employment
- Death of a Parent/Spouse
- Dependent Student marries after the FAFSA was filed
- Declared States of Emergency (COVID-19, Tornadoes, etc.)
Circumstances NOT considered include (but not limited to):
- Standard living expenses (utilities, car payments, rent or mortgage etc.)
- Credit card/other personal debts
- Elective surgeries
- Reduction in 401K/investment values
If you believe you qualify for a Special Circumstance please follow the steps to Request A Professional
Your dependency status is determined when you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA). If you
are considered “dependent,” your financial aid eligibility is based on your income and assets plus your
income and assets.
A student considered Dependent may have family circumstances that warrant evaluation so that the student
considered Independent. The bases of a dependency appeal must be rooted in circumstances that are
circumstances may include:
- Abusive home environment
- Student is homeless
- Student is unaccompanied
- Parent death after FAFSA was completed
The following situations do not, by themselves, qualify as unusual circumstances in order to grant an
- Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s 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;
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency;
- Student and parents “don’t get along”;
- Student is a single parent or pregnant.
If you believe you qualify for a Dependency Appeal, please follow the steps to Request a Professional
your dependency status.
Steps to Request a Professional Judgement:
- Contact a Financial Aid Administrator Rachel Sommerer
Appeal) or Carlos Garcia (Special Circumstance) to
conversation about your situation;
- Submit all documentation for the appeal request to one of the Financial Aid Administrators.
- Work closely with that Financial Aid Administrator in order to have a complete appeal file.
- Await a decision. Your Financial Aid Administrator will notify you via email of the decision.