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Appeal for Special Circumstances and Dependency Overrides

At the University at Albany, we recognize that there are many circumstances that impact a student or family's financial situation. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may not always capture extenuating financial situations or changes you experience after the FAFSA is completed. If you or your parents have experienced a significant and prolonged decline in family income, you may request a reevaluation of your financial aid eligibility.

The US Department of Education provides strict regulatory guidance under which Special Circumstances are to be reviewed. A Special circumstance is an unusual financial situation that may not be accurately captured by your FAFSA. A Special Circumstance is not costs associated with lifestyle choices, consumer indebtedness (house payments, car expenses, living without roommates, credit card debt, etc. Note also that a Bankruptcy cannot be covered with need-based financial aid and cannot be used to review eligibility for financial aid. Therefore, it is important to understand that a Special Circumstance review may not always result in additional eligibility for assistance.

Special Circumstances that will be considered include the following:

  • Loss of employment
  • Other loss of income (e.g. child support, Social Security benefits etc.)
  • Separation or divorce
  • Death of a parent or spouse
  • High unreimbursed medical and/or dental expenses
  • One-time payment received

How to Request a Special Circumstance Appeal

If you and/or your family find yourself in this situation and need to request a financial aid reevaluation, please contact the Student Financial Center either by phone, email or in-person and a Financial Aid Advisor will assist you.

Families selected for federal verification (at any point in time during the academic year) are strongly encouraged to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool (IRS DRT) to expedite completion of verification and the Special Circumstance review.

Dependency Override Reviews

Students without parental support may request a dependency override review. Lack of parental support is not demonstrated solely by:

  • The parents refusal to contribute to the student's education.
  • The parents unwillingness to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
  • Not being claimed as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • Demonstration by the student of total self-sufficiency.

Lack of parent support MAY be demonstrated if the student can provide third party documentation showing:

  • Abandonment by parents.
  • An abusive family environment that threatens the student's health or safety.
  • Inability to locate one's parents.
  • Other severe circumstances under which the student is able to document having no parental contact or involvement in their lives.

How to Request a Dependency Override Review

If you find yourself in this situation and need to request a dependency override review, please contact the Student Financial Center either by phone, email or in-person and a Financial Aid Advisor will assist you.