Special Circumstances

The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid follows federal, state, and institutional regulations in administering financial aid.  Your eligibility is calculated based on all information submitted on your FAFSA. We recognize, however, that many families experience changes in income or have family situations that are not reflected correctly on the FAFSA. Using federal regulations, we can revise your FAFSA data and dependency status to reflect your current circumstances.

Are You Independent?
The federally mandated formula used to determine financial aid eligibility is based on the premise that your family has the primary responsibility to pay for your education. When applying for financial aid, the federal government has specific standards to determine whether you are a dependent or independent student.  You have to meet at least one of the following requirements to be considered an independent student:

  • Married
  • Born before January 1, 1990
  • Veteran of the United States Armed Forces
  • Ward of the court until age 18, or both parents are deceased
  • Enrolled in a graduate or professional program
  • Responsible for a legal dependent other than a spouse who receives more than half of their support from you

NOTE: If you do not meet any of the above criteria, then you are considered a dependent student and you will report your parents’ income and include their signature on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  The following circumstances are not considered for the purpose of achieving independent status for financial aid:

  • You do not live in your parents' home
  • You are self-supporting
  • You are not claimed as a federal income tax exemption on your parents' income tax return
  • Your parents cannot afford or refuse to help with college or living expenses
  • Your parents are unwilling to provide their financial information to complete the FAFSA
  • You and your parents had disagreements resulting in a breakdown in your relationship

NOTE: If you believe you have special circumstances that should be considered for independent status, meet with our financial aid advisors to discuss your situation. Advisors are available in 120 Welcome Center, or you may call (713) 743-1010, option 5 to schedule an appointment.

Financial Reconsideration
If you or your parents’ financial situation has changed from the information provided on the FAFSA, or at any time during the academic year, you should contact our office to schedule an appointment with a financial aid advisor. Your advisor will determine whether your circumstances warrant a Special Circumstances Appeal. The Special Circumstances Appeal Application will be provided by your advisor, along with a detailed explanation of the required documents that must be submitted with your appeal in order to process your request. Special circumstances include, but are not limited to: loss
of employment, disability, illness, separation, divorce, or death. Your appeal will not be considered without the required supporting documentation. Our office will notify you if additional documentation is necessary.