There are two types of "Special Circumstances" appeals that students may be interested in pursuing. Below you will find information about each type of appeal. Please read before starting either appeal at 

Family Contribution Appeal (Changes in family income)


If a family has experienced an involuntary change in income from what was reported on FAFSA, a Family Contribution Appeal may be a good option. This can allow the Financial Aid Office to consider the student for PELL grant (or additional PELL grant funds), if the appeal is approved. The reason for the loss of income must be based on reasons completely beyond the family’s control. Here are a few things to consider, before submitting a Family Contribution Appeal:

  • Before considering an appeal, a student must first complete the initial FAFSA at to determine what they initially may or may not qualify for. 
  • If a student already qualifies for the maximum rate of the PELL grant, completing this appeal will not allow the student to qualify for additional PELL grant funds.
  • Since Graduate students are not eligible for the PELL grant (only federal loan options), only Undergraduate students pursuing their first bachelor's degree can be considered for this appeal.
  • A student must provide documentation of this loss of income. Examples include; separation letters, unemployment documentation, tax returns, W-2’s, current pay stubs, divorce decree, proof of out of pocket medical expenses, or death certificate.
  • A student must also provide documentation to show that the loss of income was involuntary. Examples include; laid off from work due to company closing down, divorce, excessive medical expenses, or death of household income earner



Dependency Override Appeal

Students that are not; at least 24 years old, married, serving in the military, or have any children of their own - must typically provide parent information on the FAFSA. There can be some exceptions to this, that would warrant completing a Dependency Override Appeal. These exceptions may include;

  • parental abuse
  • neglect or abandonment
  • parent(s) are incarcerated
  • one parent is deceased and the other parent's whereabouts are unknown

Standard documentation to validate these exceptions include;

  • Police reports or other court documentation
  • Signed/notarized statements from reputable third-party sources (minister, counselor, therapist, physician, etc.), that can validate their knowledge of the student and parent relationship.
  • Proof of incarceration
  • Obituary or Death Certificate


***Please note that parent refusal to provide information on the FAFSA or a student being financially self-sufficient, is not a valid reason to submit a Dependency Override Appeal. Instead, please call our office to ask about a Parental Cessation Form and what funding may be available, when no parent information is provided on FAFSA.***


How do I submit the Family Contribution or Depedency Override Appeal?


Visit Once logged in, select the “Manage Requests” link to the right of the page. From there, chose either “Family Contribution Appeal” or “Dependency Override Appeal” from the drop-down bar. Once all requirements are uploaded into the portal, please allow 7-10 business days for the committee's review. Further documentation may be requested, after this initial review.