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Appeal to be Considered an Independent Student

Students who do not meet the federal criteria for independent status, but wish to have their special circumstances reviewed may appeal to be considered independent.

Common Scenarios that may qualify a student for Independent Status

The student has been removed from the family home by the state

  • The student is in an abusive family environment (e.g., sexual, physical, or mental abuse or other forms of domestic violence)
  • The student has been abandoned by parents
  • The location of the parent or parents is unknown
  • The incarceration or institutionalization of both parents
  • Parent(s) are lacking the physical or mental capacity to raise the child
  • Both parent(s) hospitalized for an extended period
  • The student lives in an unsuitable household (e.g., child removed from the household and placed in foster care)
  • A married student’s spouse dies or student gets divorced
  • Other unique circumstances

Please note, per the U.S. Department of Education, the following circumstances do not merit a dependency override, either alone or in combination:

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education;
  • Parents are unwilling to provide information on the application for verification;
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes;
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

How to Appeal

You may appeal by doing the following:

  1. Contact the financial aid office via phone, email, or in person to request a phone or in person meeting with a Financial Aid Counselor.
  2. In this meeting please be prepared to describe your situation in detail and provide supporting documentation (see below).
  3. As each case is unique, the financial aid counselor will guide you through the process, including any additional documentation.

Documentation Required

  • A signed statement detailing your situation in detail, including:
    • Detailed description of your circumstances;
    • Your current relationship with your parent(s);
    • Date of last contact with your parent(s);
    • Whether you have requested your parent to assist you in applying for financial aid
    • Whether you were claimed as a dependent on your parent(s) or someone else’s tax returns;
  • Three (3) signed letters of support
    These letters should be from adults familiar with your case, such as a teacher, counselor, medical authority, member of the clergy, prison administrator, government agency, or court and should establish the usual circumstances.
  • If applicable, additional evidence in support of your request such as court orders, police reports and/or other official documentation.