Dependency Appeals

The Department of Education authorizes UVA to assist students with unusual circumstances to adjust dependency status on the FAFSA form to reflect their situations more accurately (also known as a dependency override). Unusual circumstances include (but are not limited to) parental abuse, abandonment, and at-risk or unaccompanied homeless status. 

Unusual Circumstances Do Not Include: 

  • Parents’ refusal to contribute to the student’s education  

  • Parents’ refusal to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification 

  • Parents’ not claiming the student as a dependent for tax purposes 

  • Students’ demonstrating total self-sufficiency 

Acceptable Documentation

Documentation is critical to a successful dependency override appeal; the Department of Education requires UVA to collect adequate documentation to support a student's appeal. Documentation may include (but is not limited to):  

  • Submission of a court order or official Federal or State documentation that the students’ parents or legal guardian are incarcerated; 

  • A documented written statement from an attorney, guardian ad litem, a court-appointed special advocate (or similar), or a representative of a TRIO or GEAR UP program that confirms the circumstances and the person’s relationship to the student; 

  • A signed statement from a school official, clergy member, mental health professional, or other professional with knowledge of the student’s situation;  

  • A documented determination of independence made by a financial aid administrator at another institution in the same or a prior award year; or 

  • A local educational agency homeless liaison, as designated by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11432(g)(1)(J)(ii)), or a designee of the liaison; 

  • Utility bills, health insurance, or other documents that demonstrate a separation from parents or legal guardians.* 

*Generally, this must be in conjunction with other documentation. 

Appeals without adequate documentation will not be considered. 

Dependency Override Appeal Process and Timeline

Students who complete a FAFSA without parental information:  

  • Starting with the 2024-25 Award Year, both initial and renewal applicants who indicate they have an unusual circumstance on their FAFSA form will submit their application under a provisional independent status. This will allow such applicants to receive a Student Aid Index (SAI) with an estimate of their federal student aid eligibility, subject to a final determination by UVA.  

  • UVA will initiate the process by adding the Additional Information for Provisionally Independent Student form to the student's To Do List in SIS. Once completed and submitted to SFS, this form allows SFS to gather basic information about the student's situation to guide them through the appeal process. 

Students who complete the FAFSA with parental information: 

  • Students who complete the FAFSA with parental information but believe that information does not accurately represent their situation should e-mail [email protected] with a subject of “Dependency Appeal” or call 434-982-6000 to speak with a counselor about a possible appeal. 

All students: 

  • Once an initial conversation has taken place with a Student Financial Services staff member, the student will be sent the Dependency Override Appeal form. This form must be completed in its entirety and submitted to us with all requested documentation. Incomplete appeals will not be considered. 

  • Completed appeals will be reviewed by the Dependency Override Appeals Committee in the order they are received. A complete appeal can expect a determination within a week of submission (or 60 days after the request for an appeal is made, whichever comes first). Decisions – regardless of approval or denial – are e-mailed to the student within 24 hours of the decision. 

  • The Dependency Override Appeals Committee may reach out to the student if further documentation or clarification is needed.  

  • Submission of an appeal does not guarantee a result. All appeals are individually evaluated on their own merit. Once a determination has been made, the Committee’s decision is final. 

For further information, please consult the 2024-2025 Federal Student Aid Handbook, Chapter 5.