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Professional Judgement

The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA) recognizes that students and/or families can experience changes that may impact their ability to apply for aid or pay their out-of-pocket costs.

The U.S. Department of Education regulations allows for financial aid professionals to review special or unique circumstances on a case-by-case basis to determine if the situation warrants further analysis.

Note: All submitted appeal documents must be accompanied by supporting documentation and a submitted appeal does not guarantee an adjustment. All reviews of special or unique circumstances will remain in compliance with federal regulations.

Special circumstances

Students and families that have faced severe financial changes or hardships from what was represented on the FAFSA may submit a Special Circumstance appeal. Situations such as, but not limited to, a job loss, loss of income, medical expenses, death of a parent, or separation/divorce of parents may qualify for a review. 

Cost of Attendance appeal

Students with a unique increase of educational costs outside the already designed academic year budget, may submit an appeal to increase their cost of attendance (COA). Appeals will not result in additional gift aid but rather will only create room in the budget for an additional source of loan funds from a student or parent loan. 

Unusual circumstances

The OSFA acknowledges that unique circumstances may arise that may not allow students to provide parental data when required on the FAFSA. If you have experienced parental abandonment, abuse, or neglect, or have experienced other unique situations such as human trafficking, parental incarceration, or a refugee or asylee status, you may appeal for independent status due to an unusual circumstance. You will be asked to explain your extenuating circumstances in writing and provide 3rd party supporting documentation. The OSFA will review your situation and will determine whether you can be considered independent based on the unusual circumstance.

How to complete an appeal

If one of the above situations is affecting you, please find the appropriate form on our Forms page below. Students with a Special Circumstance should complete the Special Circumstance appeal. Students with increased costs should complete a Cost of Attendance appeal. Students with Unusual Circumstances should complete the Dependency Appeal.

When filling out the appeal please make sure to fully explain the circumstances you are appealing for and provide the requested documentation of that circumstance. Please keep in mind that it takes 4 to 6 weeks for appeals to be processed. We also often need additional information to complete the appeal so watch your CMU email for any additional requests.

View Financial Aid Forms