Under federal guidelines, most undergraduate students are dependent for the purposes of filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and must provide parent information on this application. The dependency appeal process allows a student who has extenuating circumstances to appeal to be considered independent, even though they do not meet any of the independent student criteria on the FAFSA.
An appeal committee will review the appeal and supporting documentation. If necessary, additional information may be requested. The student will be notified of the committee's decision within two weeks of the submission of a complete appeal.
Approval of a dependency appeal does not guarantee independent status in future years. A new appeal must be submitted each year.
To file a Dependency Appeal, the student must provide the following documents:
- A completed Dependency Appeal Form.
- A signed, detailed letter from you explaining the extenuating circumstance, including the relationship with both natural parents.
- A separate letter from an independent 3rd party source (ex. counselor, medical authority, clergy, court, government agency) who can attest first-hand to your extenuating circumstances. This letter must be detailed and include as much information about your situation as possible.
- If a letter from an independent source cannot be provided, you must give the reason it cannot be provided in your appeal letter. In this case, you may submit a signed letter from another source (family member for example) in its place.
A student must also submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)online. In the Dependency Status section of the FAFSA, the student will answer the preset dependency questions and then indicate on three (3) subsequent pages that he/she has a special circumstance and is not able to provide parental information. The FAFSA will be submitted without calculating an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). If the dependency appeal is approved, the University of Scholarships and Financial Aid (USFA) will make updates to the FAFSA which will allow the calculation of a new EFC.
Allowable appeal reasons include:
- Irreconcilable differences within the family
Reasons that cannot be considered include:
- The student is financially self-sufficient
- Parent(s) no longer claim the student on their tax return
- Parent(s) refusal or inability to pay for the student's education