The FAFSA 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. Unless otherwise noted, all appeal forms are located here. Please note, that depending on the time of year, not all appeal forms will be available.
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 FAFSA (i.e. Adjusted Gross Income, dependency status, etc.), but we are not allowed to alter the EFC (expected family contribution) formula that the FAFSA 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 FAFSA, 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 Advisor to decide on the best course of action. Visit us or contact us.
Cost of Attendance Appeal
If a student believes the cost of attendance used in determining their Financial Aid was insufficient, they may request to increase their budget (and aid eligibility) with a Cost of Attendance Appeal.
How it Works
If a Cost of Attendance Appeal is approved, the maximum amount of total Financial Aid awarded to you will increase. Due to fund limitations, the difference between your current budget and your increased budget will be funded with additional loan eligibility. The maximum allowable increase is 20% of each of the following categories.
- Medical/Dental Expenses
- Personal Expenses
To file a Cost of Attendance Appeal, you must have a Financial Award Letter from our office.
How to Apply
Download the Cost of Attendance Appeal and submit the form, along with supplemental documentation, to our office.
The Cost of Attendance Appeal is available in the fall, for the current academic year. Due in late-February.
Request for Review (RFR)
If a student or their custodial parent(s) have been adversely affected by extraordinary circumstances that have reduced their ability to pay for college expenses, our office can review those circumstances in order to recalculate the expected family contribution.
How it Works
If a Request for Review (RFR) is approved, this could potentially increase eligibility for need-based Financial Aid subject to the availability of funding.
To apply for a Request for Review, you must have a Financial Aid Award Letter from our office.
How to Apply
Complete a Request for Review form and submit it to our office. Remember that Requests for Review are reserved for extraordinary circumstances only and will require the student or parent to provide additional documentation supporting these circumstances.
The Request for Review is available in May, for the upcoming academic year. Due in late-February.
On-time Status Appeal
The California priority filing deadline for the FAFSA is March 2nd. Students that file a FAFSA after this date may have limited eligibility for some Financial Aid programs including University Grant, Cal Grant, and Work-Study. Students that have special circumstances that prevented them from filing a FAFSA by the March 2nd deadline are encouraged to file an On-time Status Appeal to be awarded as though they were an on-time applicant. As a general rule, these appeals will only be considered the first time an applicant fails to meet the March 2nd deadline. We expect that students should be well aware of the deadline after their first appeal. Subsequent appeals will only be considered under extreme circumstances.
On-time Status Appeals will be available in late March for the upcoming academic year.
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.
The Satisfactory Academic Progress policy also outlines the maximum time frame for which a student is eligible for Financial Aid. Students are eligible to receive aid for 150% of the time normally required to complete an academic program. The Duration Appeal is available for students that are seeking to extend their eligibility for aid beyond this timeframe. Students submitting this appeal are encouraged to meet with their academic advisor, and must provide details as to why they were unable to complete their degree in the allotted time as well as the classes they plan to take to complete their degree.
Duration Appeals will be available on Tab 3 of My Aid Status for applicants that have not met SAP Duration critera.
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 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, the FAFSA may ask for information from the applicant’s parents.
The FAFSA 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.
The Dependency Override Appeal is available for students who do not meet the federal criteria for independent status, but wish to have their circumstances reviewed. Students who are estranged from their parents due to special circumstances (e.g., child abuse, abandonment, family alcoholism or drug abuse, etc.) which can be documented by an objective third party (e.g., pastor, high school or college counselor, a social service agency official, etc.) may qualify for this professional judgment treatment.
What if I don’t have special circumstances, but my parents refuse to help me pay for college and won’t provide their information?
Unfortunately, a parent’s refusal to assist a student with their college expenses is not sufficient to warrant a Dependency Override. Students in this situation will only be eligible for Unsubsidized Direct Loan unless their parents agree to provide their information on the FAFSA.
The Dependency Override Appeal is available in mid-January for the subsequent academic year.