Appeals and Special Circumstances

Federal Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP)

If you fail to meet any of the three Federal SAP standards at the end of the spring term each year, you will be placed on financial aid suspension. You will be ineligible for all types of federal financial aid, including loans, until SAP is reestablished. You have the right to appeal this determination based on extenuating circumstances in order to reestablish your federal aid eligibility. Visit Federal Satisfactory Academic Progress to learn more about the appeal process and submit an appeal form.

TAP Waiver

If you fail to meet New York State aid academic program progress and pursuit requirements due to extenuating circumstances, you may submit an appeal to have a TAP payment for a specific term reinstated. Supporting documentation is required as part of this process, and you must meet with a financial aid adviser. You must also file the TAP waiver form (DF) electronically.

Unusual/Special Circumstances and Other Federal Aid Appeals

When completing the FAFSA form, applicants can indicate if they have an unusual circumstance, they are homeless and unaccompanied, or their parents refuse to provide information or do not provide support. The Office of Financial Aid is required by law to contact students who indicate these statuses to ensure they understand the process to submit supporting documentation to complete their FAFSA. Make sure to check your CUNYfirst Tasks and Holds tile in the Student Center for related tasks as well as your college e-mail. Refer to the appeal process link at the bottom of the page to learn about the process.

Below is a list of federal appeal categories that address unusual, special or certain other circumstances:

    • Unaccompanied—when a student is not living in the physical custody of a parent or guardian
    • Homeless—lacking fixed, regular, and adequate housing
    • At risk of being homeless—when a student’s housing may cease to be fixed, regular, and adequate, for example, a student who is being evicted or has been asked to leave the current residence and has been unable to find fixed, regular, and adequate housing
    • Self-supporting—when a student pays for his or her own living expenses, which includes paying for fixed, regular, and adequate housing
  • Parent FAFSA Refusal—If you are not supported by your parents, or your parents refuse to provide parental information on the FAFSA. Students appealing in this category are only eligible for an unsubsidized federal direct loan.

Students appealing these situations are required to provide the Office of Financial Aid with supporting documentation to complete their FAFSA. Such documentation and necessary FAFSA corrections must be processed before the end of the period of enrollment, therefore students are encouraged to submit documentation in a timely manner. Refer to the appeal process webpage linked below to learn more about the appeal process and timeline.

If none of these categories apply to you and you still have questions about what constitutes an exceptional circumstance, schedule an appointment with a financial aid adviser for more information.

Federal law grants financial aid administrators the authority to exercise professional judgment using supporting documentation to adjust the information on the FAFSA on a case-by-case basis for unusual or special circumstances. The law also permits aid administrators to address situations related to homelessness or risk of homelessness for determining dependency status and for students who are unable to provide parental information on the FAFSA due to parental refusal. This authority grants financial aid offices the ability to adjust FAFSA data elements to accurately reflect changes in income or dependency status if the information on the FAFSA does not properly reflect a student’s current situation.

The law requires that financial aid administrators review all appeal requests.

Provisional independent status

Provisional independent status is granted to students who indicate on the FAFSA that they have either an unusual circumstance or are seeking a homeless youth determination. The FAFSA will calculate an SAI (student aid index) to let you know what you might be eligible for based on your income, family size, and other relevant data on the FAFSA. However, the application is still considered to be in a rejected status and therefore incomplete. You cannot receive any federal aid until the process is complete. The process of completing your FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid requires the appeal process outlined in the link at the bottom of the page.

Defining Unusual Circumstances

Unusual circumstances are the conditions that justify an adjustment to a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation (e.g., human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abandonment, incarceration, etc.), more commonly referred to as a dependency override.

Defining Special Circumstances

Special circumstances are the financial situations (e.g., loss of a job) that justify an aid administrator adjusting data elements in the cost of attendance (also called an expense or budget adjustment) or in the FAFSA need calculation (also called an income or asset adjustment).

Supporting Documentation

Unusual and special circumstance appeals, homeless youth determinations, and parent FAFSA refusal appeals require adequate supporting documentation before a final determination can be made. The appeal process requires students to provide supporting documentation as indicated on the appeal form and to meet with a financial aid adviser for file review and counseling. Unusual or special circumstances cannot be used to waive eligibility requirements or circumvent the intent of the law or regulations.

Note: Submission of an appeal does not guarantee approval.

Federal Aid Appeal Process

Brooklyn. All in.