The federal definition of an independent student is one who meets at least one of the following criteria:
at least 24 years old
a graduate or professional student
a member of the armed forces
a ward of the court
or someone with legal dependents other than a spouse.
Undergraduate students who submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and do not meet the federal definition of an independent student may request a dependency override if the student can document other unusual circumstances that might warrant the treatment of the student as independent for purposes of establishing eligibility for federal financial aid. Please note that the following circumstances that will not be considered unusual:
A parent refusing to provide data
A parent who is able but unwilling to provide support
A student who does not want to ask parent for information
A student who is or has been “on their own” for several years
A student who does not communicate with their parents
A student not being claimed on a parent’s tax return
Students that have circumstances warranting a dependency override should contact the Financial Aid Office via email at email@example.com to make a request.
Students must complete a Dependency Override Form which includes a personal statement explaining the unusual circumstance and submit supporting documents of the unusual circumstance. Once a completed Dependency Override Request is uploaded to the student’s FA Student Portal, students will receive an email notification of the decision.
Incomplete Dependency Override requests will not be reviewed and will be automatically denied.
Overrides only apply to one academic year. Students must reapply each academic year they would like to request an override.
Financial aid eligibility is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) which currently requires using prior-prior year’s financial information to estimate a household’s current circumstances. The Financial Aid Office recognizes that households can experience changes that are not reflected in their financial information from 2 years prior.
Financial Aid Administrators are allowed to make professional judgment decisions for special or unusual family or student circumstances. A professional judgment considers your unique circumstances in order to get a more accurate assessment of the current amount of money your family can contribute toward your education, known as your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Financial Aid administrators have the authority to compensate for special circumstances on a case-by-case basis with adequate documentation allowing adjustments to FAFSA data elements affecting the student’s EFC or Cost of Attendance (COA).
When special circumstances occur, it is possible to re-evaluate a student’s financial aid eligibility based on their current circumstance through the Professional Judgement (PJ) process. All Professional Judgement applications must include a completed Special Circumstances Form, a detailed letter explaining your special circumstance and supporting documentation.
Standard living expenses (utilities, car payments, etc.)
Credit card/other personal debts
Filing for bankruptcy
All other discretionary expenses
Student already has an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of 0
Professional Judgement applications are by request only. Students can request an application via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once a complete Professional Judgement is uploaded to the student’s FA Student Portal, students will receive an email notification of the decision along with instructions to view any changes in financial aid eligibility in their FA Student Portal.
Completing a Professional Judgement does not guarantee a change in financial aid eligibility. The Financial Aid Administrator’s Professional Judgement decision is final and cannot be appealed.