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

    Sometimes, the information and data provided on the FAFSA or CA Dream Act 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. These special circumstances are listed below.

    The 2021-2022 appeal is available on our website.

    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

    Submitting the Appeal

    Family Contribution Appeals are located through our document verification website

    Required Documentation for Appeals

    Review the Family Contribution Appeal Guide learn what you might need to submit based on the type of appeal being filed.

    If the appeal includes medical expenses, please use the itemized medical expense worksheet for guidance and for which can also be included in the appeal itself as extra documentation.

    Processing Timeline

    Processing times will depend on when the appeal was submitted and whether or not we need additional documentation in order to process the appeal. Generally, it could take anywhere between 3-6 weeks for processing. During our busy periods, its possible that it could take longer.

    Processed Appeals

    Once processed, it will take our office 7-10 business days to generate a new award letter to the student. The new award letter will be posted to My Aid Status, once available.
  • Cost of Attendance Appeal

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

    The 2021-2022 appeal is available now

    Regular Cost of Attendance Appeals

    The following expenses can be considered for Cost of Attendance Appeals:

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

    The following expenses are not considered for Cost of Attendance Appeals:

    • 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

    How it Works

    If a Cost of Attendance Appeal is approved, you will be notified and your budget will be increased to make room for additional aid, typically in the form of federal loan funding. Due to annual limits on Federal Sub/Unsubsidized loans, it is possible that your eligibility will be restricted to PLUS loans or private student loans.


    • Have already received a Financial Aid Award Letter from our office
    • Have actual expenses that incurred while enrolled for the current academic year at UCSB
    • Be able to provide receipts for expenses

    How to Apply

    Cost of Attendance Appeals can be submitted on our document website.

    Computer Cost of Attendance Appeals

    Students can request a computer cost of attendance appeal to assist with the purchase of a computer. If approved, your Cost of Attendance budget will be increased to make room for additional aid, typically in the form of loan eligibility.


    • The computer must be needed for study and educational purposes for the enrollment period in which you are applying in.
    • You must have an official Financial Aid Award letter from our office
    • The computer expense must have incurred while enrolled for the current academic year at UCSB or in the prior summer term for use during the upcoming enrollment period(s).
    • Any purchase above $2,000 will be subject to additional review before approval.
    • One computer purchase per academic program (any exceptions are subject to review).
    • Purchases covered include computer, monitor and a printer.

    How to Apply

    • Submit a Computer Cost of Attendance Appeal which is located on the document website.
    • Attach an invoice, retail description or receipt of the computer you purchased or intend to purchase as your Third-Party Documentation.
    • After your request is processed you will receive an email with further instructions.
  • 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 financial aid application attempts to measure the family’s financial strength, and then uses this information to determine the types of aid for which the student is eligible. For this reason, the application may ask for information from the applicant’s parents.

    The financial aid 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:

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

    The Professional Judgment Dependency Override Appeal is located on the document website.