Dependency Override

The FAFSA is designed to determine dependency for financial aidMoney provided to the student and the family to help them pay for the student's education. Major forms of financial aid include gift aid (grants and scholarships) and self help aid (loans and work). purposes. Typically, it’s not difficult to discern a student’s status as dependentSee Dependency Status. or independent. However, there may be a situation involving special circumstances that won’t necessarily be reflected on the FAFSA. Here’s an example:

Typically, a traditionally-aged student needs to have one of their parents sign a FAFSA. But what if the student’s grandparents have raised him because his parents are deceased? It may not be reasonable to expect the grandparents to be responsible for the cost of the student’s education. In this case, the financial aid administrator can use professional judgmentFor need-based federal aid programs, the financial aid counselor (or administrator) can adjust the EFC, adjust the COA, or change the dependency status (with documentation) when extenuating circumstances exist. For example, if a parent becomes unemployed, disabled, or deceased, the FAA can decide to use estimated income information for the award year instead of the actual income figures from the base year. This delegation of authority from the federal government to the financial aid counselor or administrator is called Professional Judgment (PJ). to classify the student as independent.  The administrator was able to  "override" the dependency statusAn independent student is one who is at least 24 years old during that academic year, is legally married, is a graduate or professional student, has a legal dependent other than a spouse, is a veteran of the US Armed Forces, is currently serving on active duty in the US Armed Forces for purposes other than training, has children, is an orphan, was in foster care, were a dependent or ward of the court, are or were an emancipated minor, are or were in legal guardianship, or have been determined to be homeless. All other students are considered dependent which means parental information must be provided on the FAFSA. If the financial aid administrator believes that a student is not an independent student, they can require them to provide proof of independent status to qualify. Their decision of the student’s status is generally not subject to appeal. A parent refusing to provide support for their child’s education is not sufficient for the child to be declared independent. If you believe you have special circumstances, please contact your financial aid administrator for information about the appeal process. They may be able to do an override of your dependency status on the FAFSA, if warranted by involuntary dissolution of the family or other very unusual situations. Typical dependency override situations include abuse, abandonment and/or neglect in the family structure. The student will need to provide proof of their situation and document by professional references. Students do not qualify for independent status just because their parents have decided to not claim them as an exemption on their tax returns or are refusing to provide support for their college education. .

To be considered for a dependency status change, students must complete a Dependency Override Request form.