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