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  • Home / Cost & Aid / Financial Aid / Appeals

    Financial Aid


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    Financial Aid Appeals

    The appeal process is a way for students and families to convey additional information that may not be captured on the FAFSA or may not be known to the Financial Aid Office.

    We encourage these families to share their special or unusual circumstances with our office by requesting a re-evaluation. A re-evaluation may result in no change to the financial aid offer, or it may result in the addition of institutional, state, and/or federal aid.

    Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) Appeal

    To maintain federal aid eligibility, federal aid recipients must make satisfactory progress toward their degree. Undergraduate students must maintain at least a  cumulative 1.80 GPA after their first semester, then a cumulative 2.00 each semester after that.  They must also complete at least 70% of the courses they attempt and complete their degree within 150% of the length of their academic program. Graduate students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.00 with a course completion rate of at least 50% after their first semester, then 70% every subsequent semester.  Students not meeting the minimum requirements will have financial aid suspended.  The complete Satisfactory Academic Progress Policy includes detailed information and the appeal procedures in the case of suspension.

    Students should submit the SAP Appeal Form if they have some circumstances that prevented them from meeting SAP.  Appeals must include the reason(s) for the student not meeting SAP and what has changed, or what corrective action has been taken, that will result in improved academic achievement.  Appeals will be approved or denied based on your documented circumstances and you will be notified of the result of the appeal in writing.  If your petition is approved, you may be required to meet with your academic advisor to develop an academic plan.  If your appeal is denied, your financial aid will be cancelled, and you will be responsible for any balance due created by that cancellation.

    Special Circumstances 

    Special Circumstances refer to financial situations that justify an aid administrator adjusting data elements used for financial aid eligibility calculations on your FAFSA.  Federal regulations require initial financial aid calculations to be based on income information from two years prior, so circumstances could be very different at the time of application.  A student may request a review of aid eligibility if the family’s financial situation has changed after the tax year filed on the FAFSA.

    Families who wish to provide information regarding special circumstances or changes that are not already reflected in their FASFA may start the process by completing the Special Circumstance Form, submitting a detailed statement of their circumstance, and supporting documentation.  Please note there is a separate appeal form for Dependent and Independent students.  A request for a re-evaluation is not a guarantee that a revision will be made, and decisions will be processed on a case-by-case basis.  If your re-evaluation is approved, corrections will be made to your FAFSA that may result in an increase of aid eligibility, however an increase in eligibility cannot be guaranteed.  This applies to undergraduate students only.

    Families submitting a Special Circumstance Form must go through the verification process (if not already verified) as well as providing supporting documentation for the special circumstance. 

    Common Special Circumstance Reasons and Limitations

    Re-evaluations based on recurring and voluntary costs (such as a few of the below examples) are limited.

    • Loss or reduction in Annual income
    • Loss of untaxed income or benefits
    • Large Out-of-Pocket Medical Expenses
    • One-time lump sum exclusion
    • Divorce
    • Death of a parent or spouse whose information was included on the FAFSA.

    Bankruptcy and consumer debt are not circumstances that will be approved.

    Unusual Circumstances 

    Unusual Circumstances refer to situations requiring the adjustment of a student’s dependency status used for financial aid eligibility calculations. A student’s dependency status is determined by the information provided on the FAFSA.

    Dependent students are required to provide parental information on those forms to be considered for all types of financial aid.  Independent students are not required to provide parental information.  A request for a re-evaluation is not a guarantee that a revision will be made, and decisions will be processed on a case-by-case basis. 

    The federal government has made rules for what they refer to as an “independent student.”  An independent student must:

    • Be 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year;
    • Be an orphan (both parents deceased), ward of the court, in foster care or was a ward of the court when 13 years or older;
    • Be a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States or serving on active duty for other than training purposes;
    • Be a graduate or professional student;
    • Be married;
    • Have legal dependents other than a spouse;
    • Be an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship
    • Be a homeless youth.

    There are times, though, when a student may not meet the above criteria but has unusual circumstances that make them completely independent from their parents.  In those cases, student must complete the Unusual Circumstance Form to see if they qualify for a “dependency override.”  Please note that independent students do not necessarily qualify for more financial aid.

    Students may qualify for a dependency override if their unusual circumstances are similar to those listed below:

    • Parents are incarcerated
    • Fleeing an abusive parent/guardian
    • Parents’ whereabouts are currently unknown
    • Unaccompanied youth and at risk of becoming homeless
    • Experiencing some combination of the aforementioned circumstances or something more

    The following situations do not qualify as an unusual circumstance and do not merit an unusual circumstance appeal:    

    • You are financially independent or demonstrate total self-sufficiency
    • Your parents refuse to contribute to your education
    • Your parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA
    • Your parents do not claim you as a dependent for income tax purposes

    Appeals require supporting documentation.  Students will be notified of the appeal results within three weeks of a complete application.  If the appeal is approved, you will receive a revised Financial Aid Offer.