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Provisional Independent Student

Provisional Independent Students

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.

If a student answered yes on the FAFSA to having unusual circumstances that prevent them from contacting their parents or that contacting them would be a risk, our office needs to review and approve this. If it is approved, based on the letter and third-party documentation, the provisional Student Aid Index (SAI) would become the actual SAI. Any financial aid notification would remain the same.

If it turns out the student does not meet the criteria or cannot provide documentation, the student will need to go back to the FAFSA and change their answer to unusual circumstances to no, invite their parent(s) to provide consent for the direct data exchange for their tax information and add their other financial information. The student will then be a dependent student. The provisional SAI will become void, and the student will be notified of an updated one based on the family’s income and assets. If aid was offered based on the provisional SAI, the aid offer will become void. A new offer based on the new information will be created.

Financial aid advisors will review the appeal and supporting documentation. If necessary, advisors may request additional documentation or context. Advisors will notify students of the results within two weeks of the submission of a complete form and valid documentation.

Required Documentation

To file as a Provisional Independent Student, a student must submit the FAFSA first and then must provide the following documentation:

  1. A signed, completed Provisional Independent Student Form. 
  2. A signed, detailed letter from you explaining your unusual circumstance(s), including your relationship with both biological or adoptive parent(s).
  3. A separate letter from an independent third-party source (ex. counselor, medical authority, clergy, court, government agency) who can attest first-hand to your unusual circumstance(s). 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 why it cannot be provided in your letter. In this case, you may submit a signed letter from another source, such as a family member in its place.

* At the end of the first section (student) of the FAFSA, the dependency status questions, indicate you have a unusual circumstance that keeps you from providing parent information. The FAFSA will be submitted without calculating an Student Aid Index (SAI).  If the Provisional Independent Student Form 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 SAI.  

Submission Reasons:

  • Abuse
  • Abandonment
  • Irreconcilable differences within the family (including estrangement)
  • Being unable to contact one's parent(s)
  • Contacting one's parent(s) poses a risk to the student
  • Having an incarcerated parent that would be a risk to contact or cannot be contacted
  • Being a victim of human trafficking
  • Being a documented asylum-seeking refugee
  • Being an unaccompanied homeless youth (see below for more information)

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.
  • The parent(s) do not wish to provide their personal information on the FAFSA form.

In order to qualify as a Provisional Independent Student due to being an unaccompanied homeless youth, a student must be unaccompanied, that means not with their parents, and have a lack of permanent housing. They must also provide supporting documentation from one of the following sources:

  • McKinney Vento Liaison
  • TRIO + Gear Up Director
  • Financial Aid Administrator
  • Director of a Homeless Shelter

Beginning with the 2023-2024 FAFSA, if there has been no change in your unusual circumstances, you will retain your status as an independent student in subsequent years, unless you indicate that your situation has changed.