Dependency Override Appeal
Federal Financial Aid regulations indicate that an individual who does not automatically qualify as an independent student for FAFSA purposes may be reclassified as independent if a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of unusual circumstances. This determination is commonly referred to as a Dependency Override.
The U.S. Department of Education (DOE) has provided guidance to assist financial aid administrators in making consistent and reasonable Dependency Override decisions.
In accordance with DOE guidance, Missouri Western State University adheres to the policy that a dependency override cannot be approved for an otherwise dependent FAFSA applicant if one, or more, following conditions is the ONLY circumstance cited by the applicant:
- the student simply states that he/she is financially self-sufficient or does not live with parent(s);
- the parent is not willing to contribute financially toward the student’s educational and living expenses, or simply elects not to assist the student financially;
- the parent isn’t willing to provide the information required on the FAFSA or to assist in completing the verification process; or
- the student is not claimed by a parent as a federal income tax exemption.
A Dependency Override generally may be considered for an otherwise dependent FAFSA applicant if one or more of the following conditions are cited by the applicant in his/her written appeal and supported by additional documentation:
- an abusive (emotionally or physically), unhealthy, or unsafe family environment;
- abandonment of the student by the parent(s);
- incarceration of the custodial parent(s);
- removal or relocation of the student from the parent(s)’ residence by court order; and/or
- other unusual or extraordinary circumstances, events, or incidents, particularly those related to any of the conditions for independency.
Dependency Override Appeal
The student’s appeal should provide convincing justification that he/she is truly independent based on at least one of the above conditions.
The Dependency Override Appeal (Form 3) should include an explanation of the following:
- the student’s current circumstances and reason for appeal;
- the student’s current living arrangements, particularly how often (summers, weekends, etc.) the student resides with parent(s);
- the student’s personal relationship with parent(s) – how often the student visits parent(s), has contact with parent(s), etc.;
- what kind and amount of financial support the parent(s) provide to the student (money, food and housing, payment of bills, purchase of a vehicle, insurance payments, medical insurance, etc.); and
- what kind and amount of financial support is received from other family members, friends, or relatives.
In addition, the student should provide:
- letters of support from at least two other adults (only one of which may be a family member or relative) who are familiar with the situation and can confirm the validity of the appeal. Examples of such individuals include, but are not limited to, a high school guidance counselor, religious leader, family services officer, guardian, court representative, social worker, etc.;
- a copy of the student’s most recent IRS tax return transcript or W2 forms (if the student is not required to file a tax return);
- a complete Verification Worksheet (Form 1); and
- a Statement of Non-Filing Status (Form 1a) if the student did not and is not required to file a Federal tax return.
Approval of a Dependency Override cannot be based solely on the fact that the student was approved for a Dependency Override for the previous award year. However, the previous year’s determination may be a factor in the Dependency Override decision.
In addition, approval of a Dependency Override by a financial aid administrator at another college or university does not guarantee that a similar determination will be made by Missouri Western State University. However, the other school’s decision may be a factor in the Dependency Override determination.
Dependency Override determinations are always made by the Missouri Western State University Office of Financial Aid on an individual, case-by-case basis.