The Financial Aid Application doesn’t always tell the whole story, and for that reason, Congress has granted Financial Aid Administrators the authority to evaluate special circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Students must provide adequate documentation to show why their circumstances warrant special treatment. To that end, our office has developed several appeal forms to provide a common means for students to report their circumstances. 

While Congress has given Financial Aid Administrators a large amount of freedom in making professional judgment decisions, there are firm limits to this power. We are permitted to make changes to data elements submitted on the Financial Aid Application (i.e. Adjusted Gross Income, Dependency Status, etc.), but we are not allowed to alter the EFC (expected family contribution) formula that the application uses. This distinction rules out certain types of adjustments that are frequently sought by students and families including: Cost of Living Adjustments, Bankruptcy, and Consumer Debt. These situations may have a real impact on a families’ ability to pay for college, but as they do not pertain to data collected on the application, Financial Aid Administrators are unable to consider them.

The descriptions below outline the appeal processes used by our office. If you are unable to discern which appeal you should file, or if you have a situation you wish to be considered that appears to fall outside of these appeals, we encourage you to contact our office and speak to a Financial Aid Administrator to decide on the best course of action. Visit us or contact us.

  • Family Contribution Appeal

    Please do not mail in physical appeals. We are only processing appeals that are submitted electronically through our document website listed below. 

    The 2020-2021 appeal is available now!
    The 2019-2020 appeal deadline was May 1, 2020

    What is a Family Contribution Appeal?

    Sometimes, the information and data provided on the FAFSA or CA DREAM Application does not accurately reflect a family's current circumstances. Situations that impact a student or family's ability to contribute to the cost of education may be reevaluated.

    Reviewable special circumstances typically include:

    Loss of employment
    Loss or reduction in income
    Exclusions of one-time sources of income received
    Final divorce or legal separation
    Death of a parent or a spouse
    Medical expenses paid

    Where can I fill out and submit an appeal?

    Family Contribution Appeals are located on our Document Verification Website

    What type of documentation is needed for an appeal?

    Please review our Family Contribution Appeal Guide to learn what you might need to submit based on the type of appeal you are filing.

    If you are filing an appeal that includes medical expences, please use the itemized medical expense worksheet which can also be included in the appeal.

    How long will my appeal take to be processed?

    Processing time will depend on when the appeal was submitted and whether or not we need additional documentation in order to process the appeal. Generally speaking, it could take anywhere between 3-6 weeks for processing. During our busy periods, its possible that it could take longer. We appreciate your patience and please contact our office with any questions.

  • Cost of Attendance Appeals

    A student can request a Cost of Attendance Appeal if he/she believes the Cost of Attendance used in determining the financial aid package was insufficient. All budget increases will be in the form of loan eligibility.

    The 2020-2021 appeal is now available.
    The 2019-2020 appeal deadline was May 1, 2020.

    Review able budget items include:

    • Rent
    • Food
    • Transportation
    • Medical/Dental Expenses
    • Books/Supplies
    • Personal Expenses

    The following expenses will not be considered for a Cost of Attendance Appeal:

    • Telephone expenses, utilities
    • Car payments, car insurance, and repairs
    • Transportation to and attendance at graduate and professional conference
    • Resume preparation and job interviews
    • Expenses incurred prior to the beginning of the academic year

    Computer Loan Request

    Our office recognizes that personal computers are a part of a student’s educational expenses. As a result, Financial Aid recipients may qualify for additional loan eligibility to assist with the costs associated with the purchase of a computer, including a monitor and a printer. This program is intended to assist students who do not have a computer, not for students who want to upgrade or replace their computer.

    How it works

    If a Cost of Attendance Appeal or Computer Loan Request is approved, you will be offered additional loan. Due to annual limits on Student Direct Loan eligibility, it is possible that your eligibility will be restricted to PLUS or Private Loans.


    To apply for a Cost of Attendance Appeal or Computer Loan Request, you must:

    • Have a Financial Award Letter from our office
    • Have not already received a Computer Loan in a prior year, if requesting a Computer Loan
    • Have actual expenses that incurred while enrolled for the current academic year at UCSB. All students must provide receipts for expenses.

    How to Apply

    Cost of Attendance Appeals or Computer Loan Requests are located here. Students must select the Cost of Attendance Appeal. 

    For Computer Loan Requests only:

    • Attach an invoice or retailer description of the computer you intend to purchase (or receipt if you have already purchased) as your Third Party Documentation.
    • After your request is processed, you will receive an email with your loan eligibility and further instructions. The maximum loan amount offered will be $2000.
  • Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal

    Financial Aid recipients are expected to meet the minimum academic standards set forth by the university. Students that fail to do so are placed on Financial Aid suspension and become ineligible for all Financial Aid programs for one year. Students have the right to appeal this suspension status. A successful appeal will allow the student to be placed on Financial Aid probation and have their eligibility reinstated immediately. These students will then be monitored on a quarterly basis to ensure they are meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements. Read more about Satisfactory Academic Progress.

    Students placed on suspension will be notified by email and given directions for accessing the Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal form here

    Please do not mail in physical appeals. We are only processing appeals that are submitted electronically through our document website listed above. 

    SAP appeals for each quarter are due by the last day of instruction for that quarter. Keep in mind that the fee deadline for each term is much earlier. 
  • Work-Study Appeal

    Undergraduate and Graduate students may appeal to be considered for Work-Study or to increase their current Work-Study award. Work-Study Appeals are evaluated case by case based on financial need and availability of Work-Study funds.

    If a Work-Study Appeal is approved, Work-Study will be added to your award or your existing Work-Study award will be increased. Your loan eligibility would also be decreased to compensate.

    The availability of Work-Study Appeals is dependent upon the funding levels of the Work-Study Program. Please visit our office to find out more information!  

  • Dependency Override Appeal

    Student aid programs operate under the idea that it is primarily the family’s responsibility to pay for a student’s education. The FAFSA and CA DREAM application attempts to measure the family’s financial strength, and then use this information to determine the types of aid for which the student is eligible. For this reason, these applications may ask for information from the applicant’s parents.

    The FAFSA and CA DREAM application uses a series of dependency questions to determine whether or not a student is required to submit parental information. Students determined to be dependent must provide parental information, while students determined to be independent do not need to provide parental information.

    Financial Aid Administrators may do dependency overrides on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual circumstances. Unusual circumstances include abandonment by parents, an abusive family environment that threatens the student's health or safety, the student being unable to locate their parents, etc. These circumstances must be documented by an objective third party (e.g., pastor, high school or college counselor, a social service agency official, etc.) in order to qualify for this professional judgment treatment.

    None of the conditions listed below qualify as unusual circumstances
    1. Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education.
    2. Parents are unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification.
    3. Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
    4. Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

    The Professional Judgment Dependency Override Appeal is located here.

    Please do not mail in physical appeals. We are only processing appeals that are submitted electronically through our document website listed above.