Supporting Letter for Parental Income Exclusion Appeal

If parents are not involved in a student's life, the financial aid office may be able to exclude parental information when calculating the student's financial aid.

While there is no guarantee that the school will adjust the student's financial package, federal law allows financial aid officers to consider this option for students with documented unusual circumstances, such as:

  • Abandonment by parents

  • Abusive family environment that threatens your health or safety

  • Inability to locate your parents

  • Homelessness or housing insecurity

  • Past or current experience living in foster care

  • Parental incarceration

Schools often refer to these appeals as "dependency override appeals."

In order for the financial aid office to evaluate this kind of appeal, the student will need documentation confirming their situation. Documentation could be a signed letter from someone who knows the student's situation— a teacher, coach, counselor, medical authority, social worker, member of the clergy, prison administrator, government agency, or court.

Through SwiftStudent, you can customize and download a letter of support for free. For details on why, when and how to submit a letter of support, please view the Table of Contents below.

Who is eligible to submit a letter of support?

In order for the financial aid office to process this kind of appeal, the student will need documentation confirming their situation. Documentation could be a signed letter from someone who knows the student's situation, such as a teacher, coach, counselor, medical authority, social worker, member of the clergy, prison administrator, government agency, or court. In almost all cases, the letter should come from someone with personal knowledge of the student's unusual circumstances.

If documentation from an outside person (third party) is not available, the school may (it is not required to) accept a signed and dated statement from the student or a family member detailing the unusual circumstances/situation. It's best to use this documentation option as a last resort. 

What information should I include in a letter of support?

The SwiftStudent template will prompt you to add information most financial aid offices require. As part of your letter, you will need to include:

  • Your relationship to the student and how long you have known them.

  • Your contact information, in case the financial aid office needs additional details

  • Confirmation of the student's situation, including whether the student is facing abandonment by parents or has been abandoned; is or has been in an abusive family environment that threatens their mental or physical health and safety; is unable to locate parents; is or has been in foster care. The financial aid office will want to know how long the situation has been in place, and will need to confirm that the parents do not provide any financial support.

You can learn more about the student's process and the overall eligibility requirements here.

When should I submit a letter of support?

Deadlines vary by school, so it's best to have the student confirm the institution's deadline.

How do I submit a letter of support?

Send a copy of your letter directly to the financial aid office. If you email your letter, you should include your student on the email chain. If you submit the letter by mail, make sure you tell the student when you submitted the letter. Sometimes paperwork can get lost, so we recommend that you and the student 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.

The financial aid office needs to retain documentation for their records, so they can't return the letter to you or the student. You should submit copies of your documents only. Please give a copy of your letter to the student for their records.


What should I expect after I submit a letter of support?

Some financial aid officers may call to verify the information submitted in the letter. Please share the best contact information for the financial aid office to reach you. Delays in confirming information will delay processing of a student's request.

Sample Supporting Letter for Parental Income Exclusion Appeal

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Sample Supporting Letter for Parental Income Exclusion Appeal

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