A Dependency Override occurs when a financial aid administrator exercises professional judgement and overrides the Department of Education’s criteria for dependent students. An override may only be granted on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual circumstances.
Parental incarceration, abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety, or parental abandonment are some reasons for which a dependency override may be considered.
In these rare instances, students may complete a Petition for Dependency Override. The petition should include a personal letter from the student detailing the unusual circumstance along with supporting documentation from a third party (guidance counselor, clergy person or social worker) who can corroborate the parental situation. Applicable legal documents, court records, and police reports may also be included to support the student’s circumstances.
What is Not Considered
Students are not considered independent for financial aid purposes for any of the following reasons:
- Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
- Parents live away from student or in a foreign country
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency
Students who think their unusual circumstances may warrant a dependency override should file the Petition for Dependency Override. The form and supporting documentation may be submitted in person, mailed, faxed or uploaded through the file and document upload process.
How to Apply for a Dependency Override
To apply for Fall 2023 – Summer 2024, please complete the 2023-2024 Petition for Dependency Override.
Homeless or At-Risk of Homelessness Students
If you are currently experiencing housing insecurity you may be eligible for a homeless determination through the Office of Student Financial Assistance. Please keep in mind this consideration is applicable only to students who are deemed Dependent for financial aid purposes and outcomes are rendered on a case-by-case basis. Students who feel they meet this criteria may apply by submitting the applicable Dependency Override application and relevant supporting documentation.
In very limited situations, a student who cannot provide parental information and does not meet the criteria for a Dependency Override may receive Unsubsidized Federal Direct Loan funds at dependent undergraduate levels. Speak to a financial aid counselor to determine whether you are able to qualify for this exception. If so, a Parent Refusal form will be required.
Please note that submitting a petition does not guarantee an approval of the appeal. There is also no guarantee an approved appeal will result in more or different types of aid awarded to the student. Dependency Overrides are not automatically renewed each year. The student must complete a request form for each new year.