Federal aid regulations allow the Reynolds Office of Financial Aid to make adjustments for certain financial situations that cannot be taken into account on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We consider each situation on a case-by-case basis and federal regulations limit which situations we can consider and how we make adjustments.
There are two major categories of special considerations we will review at the student's request. They are:
- Special Circumstances affecting family finances, and/or
- A Dependency Status Review for students who cannot provide parental information as required by the FAFSA
Special Circumstances can include situations where current year income is much lower than what you reported on the FAFSA, or you had unusual or extraordinary expenses (not associated with lifestyle choices) that negatively affected your current financial situation. These circumstances include, but are not limited to:
- Unusual medical and/or dental expenses that were incurred during the tax year provided on the FAFSA
- Death, divorce, or separation has occurred since the FAFSA was filed
- Loss of unemployment compensation
- Loss of Social Security benefits
- Loss of child support
- Loss of Worker’s Compensation benefits
- Loss of income by parent and/or student (spouse, if applicable) from work due to layoff, closing of business, termination, or reduction in employment hours to attend school
We encourage students with these circumstances to complete a Financial Aid Special Consideration Form and provide all required supporting documents.
A Dependency Status Review is a process used in those rare situations where a student should not be considered dependent according to the federal guidelines. Congress has established eight "absolutes" that qualify students for independent status. The implication of these "absolutes" is that parents are expected to help with their children's higher education unless the student meets one of the eight criteria below:
- Twenty-four (24) years of age before January 1 of the academic year
- A graduate or professional student (working on a degree beyond Bachelor)
- A married student (married before the FAFSA is completed)
- An orphan (both parents deceased) or ward of the court until the age of 18
- A veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces
- Currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training
- A student who provides more than half the support for his/her child(ren)
- A student with dependent(s) other than a child or spouse who lives with the student and who receives more than half of their support from the student.
Students who do not meet the criteria above are required to provide parental data on the FAFSA. Students cannot make themselves independent. The only way to become independent is by meeting one of the criteria above, or having a Dependency Override Request approved by the Reynolds Office of Financial Aid. The Office of Financial Aid will review cases where:
- Students have been separated from their parents due to an unsafe home environment, or
- Both parents are incarcerated or institutionalized, or
- One parent is incarcerated or institutionalized and the whereabouts of the other are unknown,
- Student's economic & personal circumstances are of such a unique or unusal nature that denial of independent student status would create an unjust hardship.
Self-sufficiency in and of itself is not a basis to grant a student independent status at Reynolds. In addition to self-sufficiency, a student must also document exceptional circumstances necessitating his/her current status. Your status as an independent student cannot be based solely on your income (resources), or your parents’ unwillingness to contribute to your educational expenses.