Dependency Status Appeal

Dependency Status Appeal

Appealing Your FAFSA Dependency Status

The federal student aid programs are based on the concept that it is primarily your and your family’s responsibility to pay for your education. A dependent student is assumed to have the support of parents, therefore, the parents’ information has to be assessed along with the student’s in order to get a full picture of the family’s financial strength. If you’re a dependent student, it doesn’t mean your parents are required to pay anything toward your education; this is just a way of looking at everyone in a consistent manner.

However, some student situations will require extra discretion in determining the student’s ability to provide parental information on the FAFSA. Our office provides the opportunity for students to appeal their FAFSA Dependency Status by submitting documentation of your situation. You must clearly demonstrate an adverse family situation in order to be considered independent for financial aid purposes. Adverse family situations may include: physical or emotional abuse, severe estrangement, abandonment, parental drug or alcohol abuse, mental incapacity or other circumstances.

Federal guidelines stipulate the following conditions do not solely qualify as circumstances meriting a dependency override:

  • Parent refusal to contribute to the student’s education
  • Parent unwillingness to provide information on the FAFSA or to provide required verification documentation
  • Parent does not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency

If your situation does not meet the requirements for a Dependency Override, but you still cannot provide parental information, you have the choice to submit the FAFSA without parental data. If you do not provide their information on the FAFSA, the application will be considered “rejected,” and you might not be able to receive any federal student aid. The most you would be able to get would be a loan called an unsubsidized loan. The FAFSA will tell you what to do if you are in this situation. Learn more about how to fill out the FAFSA when your parents aren’t supporting you and won’t provide their information.

Appeal Guidelines: We understand that this type of appeal can feel intrusive. We want you to know that we take every precaution to protect your privacy and to ease the burden of having to go through this process. To that end, we offer a unique appeal process for dependency status overrides. The first time you appeal, you will build your case with supporting documentation. Once that appeal is approved, in subsequent years, you will only need to update us on your living situation and status of relationship with each of your parents via your personal statement.