Students are encouraged to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year they are enrolled at UAB. The FAFSA uses a family’s income, assets, household size, and additional information to determine a student’s dependency status and Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC assists schools in determining a student’s eligibility for federal financial aid.
There are limited conditions when a student’s income or dependency status as determined by the FAFSA may not accurately reflect a student’s situation and where there are special circumstances that need to be considered. The Office of Student Financial Aid may review a student’s financial aid eligibility or dependency status on a case-by-case basis if a student wishes to appeal the results of the FAFSA. The types of special circumstance appeals are limited to specific guidelines described in the information for each appeal below.
Special Circumstance Appeal
Students whose families have experienced a major change in income that occurred after the respective tax year information you entered on your FAFSA may submit a Special Circumstance Appeal. Major changes include, but are not limited to, death or divorce in the family, loss of job or significant benefits, or major medical expenses not covered by insurance. If a request is approved, the information on the FAFSA will be updated and the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be recalculated. Recalculation of the EFC does not guarantee a change to the student’s federal financial aid.
To ensure compliance with federal regulations, there are limits to which circumstances can be considered. Special circumstances are considered on a case-by-case basis and must have occurred outside of student/parent control.
Upon submission of the form, you will be notified by the Office of Student Financial Aid on how to upload supporting documentation. Requests cannot be processed without specific details regarding a student’s special circumstances or without appropriate documentation.
- Students must complete the respective FAFSA at https://studentaid.gov/h/apply-for-aid/fafsa before an Income Reduction Request can be processed.
- Families with an EFC of zero will not be reviewed and should not submit a Special Circumstance Appeal.
- All verification requirements must be satisfied before an appeal can be considered.
- Approval of a request does not guarantee receipt of additional federal financial aid.
Unusual Circumstance Appeal
Undergraduate students are considered dependent for federal financial aid purposes until they are:
- 24 years of age or older
- Have dependents of their own for which they provide the majority of support
- A veteran or on active military duty
A student has the right to appeal a determination of dependency if certain extenuating circumstances exist. In limited cases, appeals may be granted when the parents cannot be reasonably expected to contribute to the student’s educational expenses. A parent contribution would generally not be expected in the following circumstances:
- Parental incarceration or institutionalization
- Parental abandonment of the student
- Abusive home environment
There are conditions, however, that individually or in combination do not merit a dependency override. Those circumstances include:
- Student is self-supporting
- Student is not claimed as a tax exemption for federal tax purposes
- Parent is unable or unwilling to help with college or living expenses
- Parent is unwilling to provide information needed to complete the FAFSA
For additional information or to discuss your eligibility for an appeal, please contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at 205-934-8223 or