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Dependency Override

Under the 1965 Higher Education Act an individual who does not automatically qualify as an independent FAFSA applicant may be reclassified 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 which impact the authority delegated to financial aid administrators to exercise discretionary professional judgment in the area of Dependency Overrides. However, interpretive guidance has been issued to assist financial aid administrators in making consistent, prudent, and reasonable Dependency Override decisions.

In accordance with DOE guidance, the University of Central Missouri subscribes to the policy that a dependency override cannot be approved for the following reasons:

     1) the student claims to be financially self-sufficient,

     2) a parent isn't willing to contribute financially toward the student's educational and living expenses, or simply elects not to assist the student financially,

     3) a parent isn't willing to provide the data required on the student's 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.


A Dependency Override generally can be approved for a 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:

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

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

     3) incarceration of the custodial 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, particularly those related to any of the conditions for independency (on the 2007/2008

         FAFSA, these are items 48 through 55). Answering YES to one of those questions automatically changes your status to independent.

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

You should also explain the following circumstances:

In addition, you must also provide letters of support from at least two 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. Examples of such individuals include, but are not limited to your high school guidance counselor, religious leader, Family Services officer, guardian, court representative, social worker, or grandparent.

Submit to the UCM Office of Student Financial Services:

  1. your written appeal,
  2. a photocopy of your federal income tax return (for the 2007/2008 FAFSA, the 2006 return is needed),
  3. two letters of support (each individual should include his/her address and telephone number), and
  4. your paper FAFSA with all steps completed (other than Step Four) if you have not already submitted a FAFSA online.

Approval of a Dependency Override may not be based solely on the fact that you were 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 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 made by the UCM Office of Student Financial Services on an individual, case-by-case basis.