Appeals

Some students and their families experience unique circumstances that may affect their ability to pay college costs. The Office of Student Financial Aid Services may be able to assist families experiencing hardships as outlined below.

Cost of Attendance (Budget) Increase

Students who face higher costs due to extenuating circumstances may request a budget increase by submitting a formal appeal.  If approved, the budget increase would allow students to borrow additional loan funds, subject to annual loan limits and/or lender approval.

The following expenses will be considered for an increase to a student’s cost of attendance budget:

  • Childcare or eldercare expenses – include a letter from childcare or eldercare provider detailing agreement (including fee, hours, etc.)
  • Additional transportation expenses – include a letter indicating mileage, frequency of travel, reason for travel, and a printout of the route’s mileage from MapQuest, Google Maps, etc.
  • Additional books and supplies – include copies of course syllabus and bookstore price list or receipts that show your expenses exceed the standard allowance
  • Additional expenses related to an internship – include a letter indicating costs, such as transportation, clothing (if required to participate in internship program)
  • Additional rental/mortgage expenses – include a copy of signed lease or mortgage statement
  • Computer purchase – include a dated sales receipt outlining specific item(s) purchased, or a printed estimate for a potential purchase ($2,000 maximum purchase allowance)

To request a budget increase, complete an Appeal for Increased Cost of Attendance form from the Forms Portal and submit it along with all required supporting documentation.

Dependency Status

Pursuant to the basic premise of student financial aid, parents and students have the primary responsibility to finance educational expenses.  A student’s dependency status is determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on their responses to the questions in Step Three of the FAFSA.

The following conditions would not merit a review to a student’s dependency status, either alone or in combination (according to U.S. Department of Education guidelines):

  • Parent(s) unable or refusing to contribute to the student’s education
  • Parent(s) unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or documents for verification
  • Parent(s) not claiming the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Student demonstrating total self-sufficiency

Appealing Dependency Status

A student may submit a dependency appeal request in cases of special or unusual circumstances contributing to an unintentional, uncontrollable break in relationship between a student and their parent(s).  Appeal reasons that may be considered include:

  • An abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety
  • A student is unable to locate their parent(s)

To begin the appeal process, submit a letter or email to our office clearly explaining your situation. If your appeal is one our office will consider, additional information will be requested. A Dependency Appeal Form will be emailed to you to complete and return along with supporting documentation.

Renewal Process

If your dependency status does not change, each year you will need to complete the following steps:

  1. Complete the 2020-2021 FAFSA without parental data at https://fafsa.gov on or before February 15th, 2020.  Your FAFSA will indicate that it is in Federal Reject Status until our office reviews and updates your renewal form.
  2. Complete the 2020-2021 Dependency Status Renewal Form.

Special Circumstance

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is considered to be a “snapshot” of the family’s financial situation as of the date it is submitted.  Families facing severe financial hardship due to extenuating circumstances, such as job loss, should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid Services for review of their eligibility.

Circumstances that will be considered include:

  • Changes in family structure (e.g., death, divorce or legal separation)
  • Changes in untaxed income (e.g., child support)
  • Unusual expenses that occurred in the FAFSA related tax year (e.g., medical and/or dental expenses not covered by insurance, costs associated with a natural disaster)
  • IRA/Pension Withdrawal or Rollover
  • Changes in employment status due to uncontrollable circumstances

If your situation falls into one of the above categories, please call our office at (860) 486-2819 and request to speak to a Client Services representative.

Note: a recalculation of financial need does not guarantee that the student will receive additional aid.