Federal financial aid regulations assume that the family has the primary responsibility in meeting the educational costs of students. Occasionally, due to unusual circumstances affecting the parent-child relationship, students may not be able to file the FAFSA as a dependent. If you feel you have an unusual circumstance that may qualify you to become independent of your parents for financial aid purposes, please contact the individual listed at the bottom of this web page. All students are screened for potential eligibility prior to being allowed access to the application for Dependency Override.
In particular, the following circumstances DO NOT merit a dependency override, either alone or in combination:
- Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education;
- Parents are unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification;
- Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes;
- Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.
Note that all of these circumstances are largely discretionary in nature. A student cannot become independent just because the parents are unwilling to help pay for the student's college education.
Although these circumstances are not sufficient for a dependency override, they do not preclude it. Sometimes there are additional circumstances that occur in conjunction with these circumstances that do merit a dependency override.
Students will be asked to complete an Appeal for Independent Status and to submit documentation supporting their claim of unusual circumstance. This documentation will include, but may not be limited to:
- A letter from the student describing his/her circumstance in detail, along with a FAFSA form completed with student information only.
- Letters from two adults serving the student in professional capacities (i.e., pastor, teacher, counselor), who are aware of the student's situation. Copies of appropriate court documentation are also acceptable to support your petition.
- Signed copy of most recently filed Federal Tax Return, if applicable, showing the student filed taxes independently.
- Other documentation of how the student has provided for his/her own basic needs (shelter, food, clothing, transportation, medical care, etc.).
Questions concerning the Dependency Override process should be emailed to Katie Carpenter in the Department of Student Financial Assistance: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Income/financial hardship does not constitute an unusual circumstance, and parent(s') inability or unwillingness to pay is not a reason to apply for a dependency override (as stated in DCL GEN-93-11, May 1993). The request for dependency override falls under regulations dealing with professional judgment [Higher Education Act, sec. 479A(a)] and must be reviewed by a committee to ensure regulatory compliance. Therefore, the committee's decision is final and cannot be appealed.
If your request is approved, you must reapply for a Dependency Override each year.
Student Financial Assistance317 Potter Hall
Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd. #11018
Bowling Green, KY 42101-1018