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. 
*Please note that newly admitted students must wait until after they have submitted their Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) before submitting an appeal to our office.

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)/ *SAI (Student Aid Index) 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 Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) in 2024-2025.

The descriptions below outline the various appeals processed by our office. If you are unsure which type appeal you should file, or if you have a situation that seems to fall outside of the scope of these appeals, we encourage you to contact our office and speak to a Financial Aid Administrator for guidance on the best course of action.

  • Special Circumstance - EFC/SAI Calculation Appeal

    Sometimes, the information and data provided on the FAFSA/CADAA 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.

    Note: The Student Aid Index (SAI) will replace the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) in 2024-2025.

    Reviewable special circumstances:

    • 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

    Required Documentation

    Review the Appeal Guide to learn what documentation 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, it’s possible that it could take longer.

    Once processed, it takes approximately 7-10 business days to generate a new award letter and have it be posted to My Aid Status.

    Submitting the Appeal

    Special Circumstance - EFC/SAI Calculation Appeals are located through our Student Forms website. Please note that newly admitted students must wait until after they have submitted their Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) before submitting an appeal to our office.

  • Cost of Attendance Appeal

    A student can request a Cost of Attendance Appeal if they believe the Cost of Attendance used in determining their total financial aid was not sufficient to cover their actual expenses. Award increases for approved Cost of Attendance Appeals will usually be in the form of additional loan eligibility.

    Regular Cost of Attendance Appeals

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

    • Rent
    • Food
    • Transportation
    • Medical/Dental Expenses
    • Books/Supplies
    • Computer/Equipment needed for school
    • Personal Expenses
    • Professional license fees (If required for your program)

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

    • Security deposit for housing
    • Car payments, car insurance, and repairs
    • Resume preparation and job interviews
    • Expenses incurred prior to the beginning of the current 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 or other documentation to show expenses

    How to Apply

    Cost of Attendance Appeals can be submitted through our Student Forms website. Please note that newly admitted students must wait until after they have submitted their Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) before submitting an appeal to our office.

  • Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeal

    Financial Aid recipients are expected to meet the minimum academic standards set forth by the university. Students who fail to do so are placed on Financial Aid suspension and become ineligible for Financial Aid for one year. Students have the right to appeal this suspension status and are encouraged to do so. A successful appeal will allow the student to be placed on Financial Aid probation and have their eligibility reinstated immediately for that quarter. 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

    SAP appeals for each quarter must be submitted by the last day of instruction for that quarter (final deadline). Keep in mind that the fee payment deadline for each quarter is much earlier. 
  • Unusual Circumstance 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 will 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.

    In situations such as the ones below, you may be able to submit your FAFSA/CADAA form without parent information despite being considered a dependent student:

    • Your parents are incarcerated.
    • You have left home due to an abusive family environment.
    • You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
    • You are older than 21 but not yet 24, are unaccompanied, and are either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless. 

    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 Unusual Circumstance Appeal is located on our Student Forms website. Please note that newly admitted students must wait until after they have submitted their Statement of Intent to Register (SIR) before submitting an appeal to our office.

  • 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. The appeal process is available through the Award Letter tab in My Aid Status, below the Awards section.