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Dependency Appeal

Dependency Appeal

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 special 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, the committee may request additional information. The committee will notify the studen within two weeks of the submission of a complete appeal.

Appeal Requirements

 To file a Dependency Appeal, a student must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid* first and then must provide the following documentation:

  1. A signed, completed Dependency Appeal Form. 
  2. A signed, detailed letter from you explaining the special circumstance, including the relationship with both biological or adoptive parents.
  3. A separate letter from an independent 3rd party source (ex. counselor, medical authority, clergy, court, government agency) who can attest first-hand to your special circumstance. This signed letter must be detailed and include as much information about your situation as possible.
  4. 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.

* At the end of the third section (student) of the FAFSA, the dependency status questions, indicate you have a special circumstance that keeps you from providing parent information. The FAFSA will be submitted without calculating an Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  If the dependency appeal is approved, the Office of University of Scholarships and Financial Aid (USFA) will make updates to the FAFSA which will allow the calculation of a new EFC.  

Submission Reasons:

  • Abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Irreconcilable differences within the family

Reasons that cannot be considered include:

  • The student is financially self-sufficient.
  • The parent(s) no longer claim(s) the student on their tax return.
  • The parent(s) refuse or are unable to pay for the student's education.

Beginning with the 2023-2024 FAFSA, an approved dependency appeal will rollover to future academic years as long as the circumstances of the appeal do not change.