Special Circumstances

Our office recognizes that families may experience financial hardships that are not accurately reflected in the information that they provide on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Section 479A of the Higher Education Amendments of 1992 authorizes financial aid administrators to exercise professional judgment (PJ) on a case-by- case basis for students with special circumstances. If you feel that you (and your parent(s) if dependent) have a special circumstance that is not accurately portrayed in the financial documentation you are required to submit, you may request one of the appeal processes below:

Professional Judgement

A request for Professional Judgment (PJ) allows a financial aid administrator to adjust a student's financial aid, or need, based on special circumstances. Special circumstances may include, but are not limited to: elementary or secondary school tuition, unusually high medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance, recent unemployment of a family member, or significant changes to a family's income or assets.

Special circumstances do not include recurring costs that are considered standard living expenses and/or consumer debt.

If you feel that you qualify for a special financial circumstance, you may complete the electronic form to appeal your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Please visit the FAFSA Verification Portal and select "+- Request" in the upper right hand corner. Then select "Family Contribution Appeal". Note: First time users will need to create an account.

Dependency Override

For financial aid purposes, a student is considered a dependent of their parents unless the student is a/an:

A dependency override may be requested in cases of complete alienation between a parent and a student. In support of a request for dependency override the student should submit statements from third-parties having first-hand knowledge of the circumstances. These should include statements agency letterhead from social workers, school officials, church officials or others in the positions of authority who are familiar with the situation. Federal regulations do not permit a financial aid administrator to perform a dependency override because of a parent's unwillingness to pay for education.

If you feel that you qualify for a dependency override, you may complete the electronic form to appeal your dependency. Please visit your FAFSA Verification Portal and select "+- Request" in the upper right hand corner. Then select "Dependency Appeal". Note: First time users will need to create an account.

Important: Changes made by the professional judgment committee may or may not increase your financial aid. An aid administrator's decision regarding adjustment is final and cannot be appealed to the Department of Education.