Unusual Circumstances and Dependency Override Appeal

Unusual Circumstances refer to the conditions that justify an aid administrator making an adjustment to a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation (e.g., human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abuse or abandonment, incarceration), more commonly referred to as a dependency override.

The FAFSA Simplification Act incorporated additional unusual circumstances to consider when a student is unable to contact a parent or where contact with parents poses a risk to such student.

Unusual circumstances do include (but are not limited to):

  • Human trafficking, as described in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.)
  • Legally granted refugee or asylum status.
  • Parental abandonment or estrangement; or
  • Student or parental incarceration.

In such cases an override might be warranted based upon the student’s individual circumstances. These conditions would also not disqualify a student from being a homeless unaccompanied youth or self-supporting and at risk of homelessness.

However, none of the conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override.

Unusual circumstances do not include:

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.
  • Parents will not provide information for the FAFSA or verification.
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • A student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

This process is limited to undergraduate students. An aid administrator may override only from dependent to independent.

When a student fills in a 2024/25 FAFSA with no parental information, the FAFSA will be temporarily processed with an estimated SAI (student Aid Index) and estimated Pell grant (if the student is eligible).

The student may be able to request a dependency override by claiming unusual circumstances and providing appropriate documentation.

The Appeal Process

  • Step 1: The student should connect directly with their financial aid counselor or admission counselor to ask about the financial aid appeal process – Please email finaid@regiscollege.edu as early in the semester as possible.
  • Step 2: The financial aid or admission counselor should refer to the webpage and guide outline the criteria for consideration.
  • Step 3: The financial aid staff or admission counselor should provide the student with the link to the online unusual circumstances form.
  • Step 4: When completed, this information goes directly to financial aid and select members of admission who sit on the appeal committee. The student is responsible for submitting the form, and any documentation with this form.
  • Step 5: The Financial Aid Appeal Committee comprised of members of admission and financial aid, will review the request. The committee meets at least once a month. Decisions may take two to four weeks. The Committee will base the decision on the circumstances detailed on this page and in the supporting documentation.
  • Step 6: Students are notified of the decision via their email address.

If the student’s circumstances do not meet the conditions for unusual circumstances, the student’s request for dependency override will be rejected and such student will be awarded unsubsidized loans for dependent students only. The student is not eligible for Subsidized Direct Loans, Federal Work Study, federal Pell grant or SEOG grant.

The student still needs to fill in the unusual circumstances form (Add link to unusual circumstances form).

If the financial aid committee approves the dependency override, the student will have an independent undergraduate student status and will be eligible for all federal loans and federal aid.

Examples of admissible documentation are:

  • A documented interview between the student and the financial aid administrator.
  • Submission of a court order or official Federal or State documentation that the students’ parents or legal guardian are incarcerated.
  • A documented phone call or written statement from an attorney, guardian ad litem, a court-appointed special advocate (or similar).
  • A documented determination of independence made by a financial aid administrator at another institution in the same or a prior award year; or
  • Utility bills, health insurance, or other documents that demonstrate a separation from parents or legal guardians.
  • Acceptable documentation may also include a documented phone call or written statement, which confirms the unusual circumstances with an independent living case worker who supports current and former foster youth with the transition to adulthood; or a public or private agency, facility, or program servicing the victims of abuse, neglect, assault, or violence.