While families are still dealing with the impacts of COVID-19, Financial Aid Appeals will likely be a needed step in helping students from our communities access the aid they need to attend college. As you prepare to assist students in navigating the appeals process, it’s vital first to understand who’s likely to need an appeal:
- Students who have approved exceptional circumstances (see below) will need to undergo a dependency override. For more information about Dependency Override, please refer to our blog on that topic.
- Students whose family’s financial situation has drastically changed since the time of FAFSA / CADAA submission.
- Students whose family’s financial situation has drastically changed due to COVID-19.
As the counselor you may want to help students gather documentation that speaks to their specific needs/context. Below are some guidelines to help you understand which of your students are and are not likely to have a circumstance that will lead to a successful financial aid appeal.
Non- Approved Circumstances
While it may be less than ideal, the following situations will not produce a successful appeal. It would be best to encourage students to work with their parents to provide the required information for the FAFSA/CADAA.
- Parents refuse to provide information on the financial aid application or for verification
- Student reluctant to request income information from parents
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
- Student demonstrates financial self-sufficiency
- Parents unwilling or unable to contribute to student’s education
- Parents live in another country
Students whose family’s financial situation has drastically changed since FAFSA/CADAA submission will be considered for repackaging of their financial aid award. Financial aid repackaging consideration includes those impacted by COVID-19. The following items are usually approved situations where students may be repackaged:
- Parent job loss
- Parent divorce
- Parent death
- Severe medical costs
- Other extenuating financial circumstances
Families Impacted by COVID-19
Families whose change in financial situation as a direct result COVID-19 (e.g., job loss, decrease in income) still need submit FAFSA/CADAA using the tax year 2019 (submitted in April 2020). Once that report is received and processed by the college, families will then use the job status and income of 2020 (based on W2 info received January 2021) for aid reconsideration.
The Financial Aid Appeals Process
The student must first SUBMIT THE FAFSA/CADAA using data asked for within the application. The student should not use updated information because there has been a recent change in income or circumstance. Once a student receives an offer of admission from a college/university, they should contact the financial aid office and, following their specific appeals process, resubmit the FAFSA/CADAA. After getting clear instructions on how to proceed forward, the student should resubmit FAFSA/CADAA with necessary changes so the school can repackage them appropriately. The appeals process must be completed at EACH college the student is considering attending.
The appeals process may take serval weeks to process. The student should follow up consistently (every week) until they get a response. Students also should know that it probably best to email for questions rather than call.