Washington State University

Student Financial Services

Life Happens

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a tool used to estimate a family's ability to pay for their student's education. However, we are well aware that sometimes situations change and last year's tax information may not always provide an accurate picture of the family's financial situation. We also know that our student population is diverse and they have many different needs. To this end, Student Financial Services has a number of procedures in which a student can reflect their family's special circumstance or outline their additional financial requirements. While we encourage those who fit into these categories to file an appeal, we ask that only complete and thoroughly documented appeals are submitted. If you should have any questions regarding this information, please contact us.

Appeals for the 2013-2014 academic year can be completed by clicking here. The 2014-2015 Special Circumstance Appeal form will become available here approximately May 19, 2014, however the processing of the form will not being until approximately June 2, 2014. 

Special Circumstance Appeals

The federal government allows Washington State University to employ professional judgment to reevaluate a student's financial aid when students document special or extenuating circumstances. The following circumstances are considered valid reasons for reevaluating a student's financial aid eligibility:

Change in Income

  • Student Financial Services at Washington State University considers a change in income to be a valid reason for re-evaluating a student's financial aid eligibility. If income reported on the FAFSA is higher than what will be received during the academic year due to a loss or change in employment, divorce or separation, unusually high income originally reported on the FAFSA (like an inheritance), garnishment of wages due to bankruptcy, a death in the family, or disability of an income producing family member - our office can recalculate a student's expected family contribution (EFC) once the appropriate form and documentation has been submitted. The EFC is the index number, calculated by the FAFSA which our office uses to determine how a financial aid award may be adjusted. If the EFC is reduced to such a level that more aid is warranted, the financial aid award will be adjusted. 

Medical and Dental Expenses 

  • Student Financial Services at Washington State University considers excessive medical and dental expenses to be a valid reason for re-evaluating a student's financial aid eligibility. In the event a student is packaged to cost for their education with financial aid, a medical/ dental appeal can be submitted to increase a student's budget so that more aid may be awarded to help with these expenses. The government assumes that a certain percentage of the student/family's budget will be spent on medical and dental expenses. If the sum of the out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses are above and beyond the figure the government sets for the family and /or student, we can reevaluate the student's expected family contribution (EFC).

Parent in College

  • Student Financial Services at Washington State University considers having a parent in college to be a valid reason for re-evaluating a dependent student's financial aid eligibility. While the FAFSA covers many expenses a family might have, the cost of a parent attending college is not included. In the event that a parent has excessive educational expenses, we can recalculate the student's expected family contribution (EFC) once the appropriate form and documentation have been submitted. We can only consider expenses that the parent is paying themselves; if an employer is covering the cost of the education, we are unable to make adjustments.

Private School Tuition

  • Student Financial Services at Washington State University considers a family having K-12 private school educational expenses a valid reason for re-evaluating a student's financial aid eligibility. In the event that a family has excessive educational expenses, we can recalculate the student's expected family contribution (EFC) once the appropriate form and documentation has been submitted. The third page of the form has a chart and explanation of the governments assumed dollar amount the family will spend on miscellaneous expenses.  Please refer to that page to see if writing the appeal would be beneficial.

Student Loan in Repayment

  • Student Financial Services at Washington State University considers a family having educational loan expenses a valid reason for re-evaluating a student's financial aid award. In the event that a family has excessive educational loan expenses, we can recalculate the student's expected family contribution (EFC) once the appropriate form and documentation has been submitted. Loan payments that are made on behalf of a third party cannot be considered. Also, the loans must be educational; credit card debt and/or equity loans taken out to pay for educational expenses cannot be considered.

 

Independency Appeals

The United States Department of Education has set strict and explicit rules regarding the dependency status of students receiving financial aid. However, it is recognized that the federal definition of independency cannot always give a reliable depiction of the family situation. In extreme circumstances, our office has the capability to make a professional judgment which can relax the independency criteria. Any such appeals must be accompanied by extensive documentation and just cause. Please click the link below for more information.

Independency Appeal

FAFSA Independency Criteria

When you first complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, you are asked a series of questions 
to determine your dependency status. Based on those answers:

  • If you're considered dependent, you must report your parents' income and assets as well as your 
    own on the FAFSA. (See the FAFSA explanatory notes for more information on who is considered your parent.)
  • If you're considered independent, you will only need to report your own income and assets (and 
    those of your spouse, if you're married) on the FAFSA.
  • Please note that not living with your parents, not being financially supported by your parents, or not being claimed by your parents on their tax returns does not determine your dependency status.

You'll be considered independent if on the 2013-2014 FAFSA at least one of the following applies to you:

  • You were born before January 1st, 1990.
  • You're married (or separated but not divorced) as of the day you complete the FAFSA and sign it .
  • You are or will be enrolled in a Master's or Doctorate program (beyond a bachelor's degree) at the 
    beginning of the 2013-2014 school year.
  • You are currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • You are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Services. (For more details on who is considered a veteran, see the explanatory notes on the FAFSA).
  • You have children and you do or will provide more than half their support during July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.
  • You have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and to whom you provide more 
    than half their support during July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.
  • At any time since you turned 13, both of your parents were deceased, you were in foster care or you were a dependent or ward of the court.
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, you are or were an emancipated minor or in a legal guardianship.
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, your high school or school district homeless liaison determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, a director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2012, a director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determined that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

(Please refer to the FAFSA directions and notes for more information on this subject and definitions of the above terminology.)

Independency Appeal

In certain unusual cases, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships can consider if it should treat a student who doesn't meet the above criteria as independent. To be considered, a student must file an appeal with the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships.

  • You will need to provide supporting statements from at least three adults (one of whom is not a relative or friend) that can corroborate your situation.
  • Additionally, you'll need to provide an extensive narrative of your circumstances under which you believe a dependency appeal is warranted. While we encourage you to file an appeal if your situation warrants, you should be aware that the burden of proof for an independency appeal is set high and typically only extremely well documented appeals will be granted.
  • Form BG - Independency Appeal Instructions

If granted, your dependency status may be changed through a professional judgment by our office based upon sufficient documentation of your special circumstances.

 

Announcements

 

 

Office Hours:
8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Monday-Friday


Student Financial Services, Lighty Building Room 380, Washington State University, PO Box 641068, Pullman WA 99164-1068, 509-335-9711.