Students who cannot answer yes to any of the dependency questions on the FAFSA can submit an appeal to the financial aid office requesting that they be declared independent. If granted, eligibility for federal aid is then based solely on the student's income.
To have an appeal approved, there must be extenuating circumstances which prevent the student from providing parental information on the FAFSA. To have the independent status carried forward into subsequent academic years, the student must submit a letter requesting that it be renewed.
Appeals granted to students by other colleges do not apply to UM. The student must go through UM's appeal process to be granted independence at UM.
Dependency Override Procedures
Dependency overrides can only be granted if an extenuating circumstance exists.
In reviewing appeals, the committee is looking for evidence that it is not reasonable to expect the student to seek out information from their parents because it would be unsafe, unhealthy, or the parents are inaccessible.
Examples of extenuating circumstances include:
- Physical or sexual abuse
- Abandonment by both parents
- History of neglect due to parental alcohol or drug abuse
- Incarceration of the custodial parent
- Other circumstances which prevent the student from having contact with the parents
A parent's refusal to provide information on the FAFSA, or the fact that a student is self-supporting, in and of themselves, are not reasons for which a dependency override can be granted.
A student should start by completing the FAFSA online. When asked to provide parental information, they should say they are unable to do so. This will result in an incomplete FAFSA, pending the approval of the dependency override.
The student then needs to submit the Special Circumstance Request for Independent Status to the financial aid office. Along with the form, they will need to submit a letter detailing the extenuating circumstances that prevent them from providing parental data. They will also need letters from two disinterested individuals who can confirm the student's situation. Disinterested individuals include, but are not limited to, teachers, counselors, pastors, adult relatives or the parents of friends. The letters provided must address the relationship with both parents, even if the student has not had an ongoing relationship with both parents.
A committee within the financial aid office will then review the documentation provided and make a decision as to whether the appeal will be granted.
Dependency overrides only apply to one academic year at a time.
If a student is granted the override, they will need to submit a letter requesting renewal of the override each January for the upcoming academic year (presuming they are still unable to answer yes to any of the dependency questions on the FAFSA).
The letter should confirm whether the situation described in the original appeal remains unchanged.
Options for Denied Appeals
If a student is denied the appeal, they will receive a Parent Refusal to Complete FAFSA Affidavit form. If they want to receive aid for the academic year they can either update their FAFSA with parental information, or have a parent complete the affidavit.
Students submitting the affidavit are limited to receiving only the Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan at the amounts for which dependent students are eligible.