Skip to main content

Appeals and Special Circumstances

Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) results are based on the prior-prior year's tax information. Although the FAFSA is submitted each year, the information submitted may not be able to keep up with your current financial situation. We, at Santa Clara University, recognize that financial circumstances can change greatly in a year. If you experience special circumstances that affect your ability to pay college costs, we urge you to contact our office and use the appropriate SCU Appeal Request Form.

Examples of acceptable special circumstances:

  • Loss of income (wages, benefits, etc.) due to unemployment
  • Extensive medical bills not covered by insurance
  • Death of a parent
  • Divorce or separation

NOTE: Santa Clara University does not hold either need-based or merit-based aid in reserve for supplemental aid. All available funds are offered at the time of the initial award.

Your student dependency status is determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on your responses to the following questions on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA):

  • are you 24 years old
  • are you working on a master's or doctorate degree or graduate certificate
  • are you married as of the date you complete the FAFSA
  • do you have children who receive more than half their support from you
  • do you have dependents other than your spouse or children who live with you and who receive more than half their support from you
  • did you have no living parents (biological or adoptive) when you were age 13, even if you are now adopted
  • are you or were you in foster care or a ward or dependent of the court at any time when you were 13 or older (even if you are not anymore)
  • are you an emancipated minor or in legal guardianship as determined by the court in your state of legal residence
  • are you a self-supporting unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of homelessness
  • are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, or have you attended a service academy and were released under a condition other than dishonorable
  • are you currently serving on active duty (other than training) in the U.S. Armed Forces

To appeal your dependency status, you must clearly demonstrate an adverse family situation in order for us to consider you independent for financial aid purposes. This is called a dependency override, and is considered on a case-by-case basis.

The following conditions do not qualify as unusual circumstances according to U.S. Department of Education guidelines:

  • parents refusing to contribute to the student's education
  • parents unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or documents for verification
  • parents not claiming the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • student demonstrating total self-sufficiency

The estimated cost of attendance includes average amounts for standard educational expenses incurred by all students. The cost of attendance includes allowances for tuition, room, board, books, supplies and other educational-related expenses.

To request a cost of attendance increase for one of the following reasons, you will need to contact the Financial Aid Office in writing.

  • additional course-related expenses
  • child care expenses
  • disability-related expenses during the academic year

If a budget increase is approved it is unlikely that it will be covered with additional grant funding. You will need to apply for the appropriate loan program – typically Federal Direct PLUS Loans, Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans or student private financing – depending on your circumstances.

NOTE: All cost of attendance adjustments are at the discretion of professional judgment conducted by the Financial Aid Office.