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Appeals for Reconsideration: Dependency Override

Financial aid eligibility is calculated based on the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Income and asset information is evaluated using a formula called Federal Methodology as set by Congress. The formula assumes that previous year’s income, assets, and family size are good predictors of a family’s financial strength. Based on this assumption, financial aid eligibility is determined using previous year income information. However, the Department of Education gives Student Financial Services the authority to use Professional Judgment on a case by case basis to adjust elements in the federal need analysis to take into consideration a family’s special circumstances.

Dependency Override

Generally, financial aid eligibility is determined using biological/adoptive parents’ income and asset information. However, if the family circumstances are such that a student is unable to live with and be supported by his/her biological/adoptive parents because of the involuntary dissolution of the family due to abuse, death, imprisonment, abandonment or if the parents are physically or mentally incapacitated, the student’s dependency status may be re-evaluated. The U.S. Department of Education requires documentation to be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid in order for the Director of Financial Aid to determine if the circumstances warrant a dependency override. The Director’s decision is final. Dependency overrides are done on a case-by-case basis. Even if the student was eligible for an override in a previous academic year or at a previously-attended institution, he/she may not qualify for an override in the future, unless the Director agrees the student is self-supporting because of an involuntary separation, listed above, from his/her biological/adoptive parents.

The student must complete and submit the Request for Independent Status (Dependency Override) Request Form and provide any court documentation, police records, written statements from the student and two people who can explain why his/her circumstances warrant an exception and how the student has been supporting him or herself for the last year. The written statements can be from an uninterested 3rd party, an adult relative, an adult the student has lived with during the past year, a pastor or a counselor. The statements must include his/her relationship to the student and what he/she has witnessed with regards to the student’s situation. It must be signed by that individual, and a phone number must be included as to where he/she can be reached for further questions. If the student has lived alone, he/she must also provide documentation such as tax returns, lease agreement, and/or utility statements, etc., to demonstrate his/her ability to support his/herself. Once all required documentation is submitted, it is the responsibility of the student to contact the Office of Financial Aid regarding the decision.

The following conditions, singly or in combination, do NOT merit a dependency override:

  • Parents’ refusal to contribute to your education;
  • Parents’ unwillingness to provide information on the FAFSA or verification;
  • Parents do not claim you as a dependent for income tax purposes;
  • You (student) demonstrate total self-sufficiency.