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14/15 Dependency Override

Dependency Override Appeal

2014-2015 Award Year

In accordance with the 1965 Higher Education Act, as amended, an individual who doesn't automatically qualify as an independent FAFSA applicant for the 2014-2015 award year may be considered for reclassification as independent if (s)he... “is a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of unusual circumstances”. Such a determination is referred to as a Dependency Override.

When a Dependency Override is approved for a FAFSA applicant, a financial contribution from the student’s parent(s) is neither expected nor included as part of the federal financial aid eligibility calculation.

The Higher Education Act prohibits the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) from prescribing any regulations impacting the authority delegated to college and university financial aid administrators to exercise discretionary professional judgment in the area of Dependency Override decisions. However, interpretive guidance has been issued to help financial aid administrators make consistent, prudent, and reasonable decisions.

Therefore, in accordance with DOE guidance, the University of Central Missouri subscribes to the policy that a Dependency Override cannot be approved for an otherwise dependent FAFSA applicant at UCM if any of the following conditions are the only circumstances cited by the applicant:

    1. the student simply states or claims that (s)he is financially self-sufficient,

    2. a parent is not willing to contribute financially toward the student’s educational and living expenses, elects not to assist the student financially, or simply believes that the student should be independent,

    3. a parent is not willing to provide the data required on the student’s 2014-2015 FAFSA or to assist in completing the Verification process, and/or

    4. the student is not claimed by a parent as a federal income tax exemption for 2012 or 2013.

On the other hand, a Dependency Override may be approved for an otherwise dependent FAFSA applicant if one or more of the following conditions are cited by the applicant in a written appeal and are supported by additional documentation:

    1. an abusive (emotionally or physically), unhealthy, or unsafe family environment,

    2. abandonment of the student by a parent(s),

    3. incarceration of a parent(s),

    4. removal or relocation of the student from the parent(s)’ residence by court order, and/or

    5. other unusual or extraordinary circumstances, events, or incidents.

In your written appeal, be sure to provide convincing justification that you are truly independent of your parent(s) in accordance with at least one of the above conditions.

You must also explain the following circumstances in your appeal:

  1. why your parent(s) are not providing (or will not provide) any financial support for you,
  2. why you're unable to obtain income and asset data from your parent(s) to complete your 2014-2015 FAFSA,
  3. your living arrangements, particularly how often (summers, weekends, etc.) you reside with your
    parent(s),
  4. your personal relationship with your parent(s)...how often you visit them, contact them, etc.
  5. what kinds and amounts of financial support your parent(s) provide to you (money, food and housing, payment of your bills, purchase of a vehicle, insurance payments, medical insurance, etc.), and
  6. what kinds and amounts of financial support you receive from other family members, friends, or relatives.

In addition, you are required to also provide letters of support from at least two other adults (only one of which may be a family member or relative) who know of your circumstances and can attest to the validity of your written appeal. Out of these two supporting letters, at least one of them must be written by a professional on official letterhead stationery. Examples of such individuals include, but are not limited to your high school guidance counselor, religious leader, Family Services officer, court representative or social worker.

In summary, to request a Dependency Override:

  1. Complete only the student section of the 2014/15 FAFSA and submit at www.fafsa.gov. UCM's federal school code is 002454.

  2. Submit your signed letter of appeal to UCM's Office of Student Financial Services.

  3. Have your two signed supporting letters submitted to UCM's Office of Student Financial Services.

Please be advised that approval of a Dependency Override cannot be based solely on the fact that you may have been approved for a Dependency Override for the previous award year. However, a previous year’s determination may be a factor in the Dependency Override decision for 2014/2015.

In addition, approval of a Dependency Override by a financial aid administrator at another college or university does not mean that a similar determination will automatically be made by UCM. However, the other school’s decision may be a factor in the Dependency Override determination.

Dependency Override determinations are always made by the UCM Office of Student Financial Services on an individual, case-by-case basis.