We understand that you are in a tough situation and may not feel comfortable disclosing personal details to your school. Unfortunately, the law only allows for a dependency override when unusual circumstances exist. Examples of unusual circumstances that may qualify include:
The location of your parents is unknown or they are deceased
Your parents have abandoned you, are incarcerated or institutionalized
An abusive family environment (such as sexual, physical, or mental abuse or other forms of domestic violence) that threatens your health or safety
Past or current experience living in foster care, or if you were removed from your family home by the state
Students are considered homeless if they are living in shelters, parks, motels, hotels, public spaces, camping grounds, cars, abandoned buildings, or they are temporarily living with other people because they have nowhere else to go. Incarceration of a parent may not be viewed as sufficient for an override at all schools, so it is important to connect with your financial aid office.
Though the following reasons may be relevant when combined with other circumstances, these situations do not on their own qualify as reasons for you to request a dependency override.
You demonstrate total financial independence or self-sufficiency.
Your parents are unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification.
You do not live with your parents.
Your parents do not claim you on their federal or state tax forms.
If you are in any of the four circumstances listed above, you may want to consider sending a letter to your financial office about your special circumstances and to ask what options might be available to you. You can find that letter here.
This appeal option is available to qualifying students at all types of institutions (4-year, 2-year and trade) offering federal financial aid.
It may take the financial aid office some time to evaluate your request, so you should ask the financial aid office about this option as soon as possible. While deadlines vary by school, it is best to share your situation promptly to make sure you don't miss out on support or information about the process.
Your best next step is to visit your school's financial aid website or to contact your financial aid office. Some schools have online forms, some schools have walk-in hours and others have appointment only options.
If your school does not offer a form online and you cannot reach out to the financial aid office during business hours, you can start the conversation with your financial aid office by submitting the SwiftStudent Parental Income Exclusion Request.
Be sure to use the free SwiftStudent worksheet to help you keep track of your interactions with your financial aid office.
Ultimately, it is up to your financial aid office to determine what documents are required, but the goal of submitting these documents is to confirm your situation. The following kinds of documents will help the financial office process your appeal.
Documents from an outside agency, such as court documents or police reports, should be included if available.
You also should include a signed letter from at least one person who knows your situation— coach, teacher, social worker, medical professional, police officer, member of the clergy, another family member, friend, or the parent of one of your friends who knows about your situation. Some schools ask for more than one letter. You can ask your references to use this free SwiftStudent form to help them provide the essential kinds of information to your school.
If letters from an outside person (third party) are not available, the school may accept a signed and dated statement from the student or a family member detailing the unusual circumstances. Since the school is not required to accept a statement from you or a family member, it's best to use this documentation option as a last option.
Do not submit original documents to your financial aid office. The financial aid office needs to retain documentation for their records, so they can't return them to you. You should submit copies of your documents only.
Be sure to keep a written record of your communications with the financial aid office, including copies of letters and conversation notes. You can download a free SwiftStudent worksheet to help you keep track of names, dates, and conversations.
Your financial aid office may need additional documents or information to make a decision.
Make sure to check your official school email address every day so that you don't miss a response from your financial aid office. You can also reach out to your financial aid office to check on the status of your request.
If your request is approved, the financial aid office will share how much more aid you can expect to receive, if any. If you are offered a loan, it's important to consider the type of loan and how the amount will help you reach educational goals.
If your request is denied, it doesn't mean you're out of options. Ask your financial aid office why the request was denied and what other community or institutional resources are available.