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Special Financial Circumstances

If you or your family have encountered personal or financial hardships that were not accurately reflected at the time you filled out your FAFSA, Financial Aid and Enrollment Services can review your file for special circumstance consideration. Financial Aid representatives can make professional judgment decisions on a case-by-case basis to change a dependent student's status to independent and increase or decrease one or more of the data elements used to calculate the EFC and/or increase the cost of attendance.

Each of these decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and will require supporting documentation. Examples of such special circumstances appear below.


Request for Independent Status (Dependency Override)

In some cases, Financial and Enrollment Services can override the dependency status for a student and change that status to independent. The definition according to the Department of Education states that if the student is 23 years of age or younger, then they are classified as a dependent student. However, if extenuating circumstances exists (such as an abusive, detrimental or non-existent relationship with both parents) a professional judgment decision can be made by a financial aid representative to grant independent status for a year.

None of the following examples warrant a dependency override:

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education.
  • Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification
  • Parents do not claim student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

If you wish for us to consider a request for independent status, please submit the following:

  1. Submit your FAFSA for the applicable aid year online at www.fafsa.ed.gov and bypass parent income information (keep in mind that the priority deadline to submit your FAFSA for the next aid year is March 15)
  2. Submit the Request for Independent Status Form for the applicable aid year
  3. A typed letter detailing the special circumstances that explain the reason for your request and discusses your relationship with your parents
  4. Two statements from professionals (teacher counselor, clergy, social worker) familiar with your situation that further outlines and verifies the special circumstances. The statements must include address and telephone numbers from the professionals and should be on letterhead
  5. Attach a signed copy of your the most recent aid year's Federal income tax return or paystubs/W2 if you earned income but did not file

Typically we begin to process Requests for Independent Status in May for the next aid year. Processing time will take several weeks. You will be notified of the result with an email to your preferred email account as indicated on ASAP.

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Adjustments to Income

Loss of Income (Student and/or Parent)

In some cases, a loss of income has occurred that can directly affect the outcome of your FAFSA results. Since your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is based on the previous year's income, a loss of income for the current year may reduce your EFC, which will result in additional need eligibility. Submitting a Loss of Income Form for the applicable aid year along with all supportining documentation will allow us to review your financial situation as it is currently.

Some examples of a Loss of Income for both students and parents include:

  • Loss of employement, reduction of hours or loss of income benefit for someone in the household
  • Divorce/Separation/Death of Spouse or Parent
  • One-time non-recurring payment received in the previous aid year that has been exhausted

Typically we begin to process Loss of Income forms in May for the next aid year. Processing time will take several weeks. You will be notified of the result with an email to your preferred email account as indicated on ASAP.

Parent Additional Expense

Parents of dependent students may experience additional expenses that could also impact their ability to contribute to their child's education. These cases can be addressed in the Parent Additional Expense Form and include:

  • Private School Tuition Expenses
  • Unusual Medical and/or Dental Expenses
  • Extended Family Support
  • Unusual Debts (non-discretionary debt)

Typically we begin to process Loss of Income forms in May for the next aid year. Processing time will take several weeks. You will be notified of the result with an email to your preferred email account as indicated on ASAP.

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Adjustments to Student's Cost of Attendance

Your cost of attendance includes expenses such as tuition, fees, room, board, transportation, books and supplies and personal expenses. If you have an extenuating circumstance that would merit an increase of your cost of attendance, you can submit the Cost of Attendance Adjustment Form for the applicable aid year for us to reivew. All supporting documentation must be included with the form. The following items can be taken into consideration for an increase of a student's cost of attendance:

  • Child Care Costs
  • Elementary & Secondary Education for Dependents
  • Additional course costs/thesis & dissertation expenses
  • Unusual medical/dental/optical expenses
  • Extended Family Support
  • Unusual Debts (non-discretionary)
  • Transportation (repairs or round trip mileage expense that exceed 150 miles traveled per week) - does not include regular car payments, maintenance or insurance

Typically we begin to process Loss of Income forms in May for the next aid year. Processing time will take several weeks. You will be notified of the result with an email to your preferred email account as indicated on ASAP.

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Financial Aid Appeals

If a student and/or parent has an issue they are unable to resolve which is not appropriate to be resolved through the normal means of the Financial Aid Appeal Committee (such as the need to resolve a conflict or dispute or file a complaint about a policy or procedure), the individual is encouraged to contact the Financial Aid Ombudsperson. The Ombudsperson is not an advocate for any individual or group on campus; instead, the Ombudsperson is an advocate for fairness.  To contact the UTSA Financial Aid Ombudsman outside of the Financial Aid Appeal Committee, please send an email to Associate Director Kim Canady at kim.canady@utsa.edu.

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