Financial Aid Appeals

We recognize that your finances (or your family’s) can change suddenly and unexpectedly. If you are experiencing special circumstances that are severely impacting your ability to pay for college, we encourage you to contact our office and talk with us about how you may appeal your financial aid award. Our staff will work closely with you to review your situation and determine what adjustments may be allowed under federal regulations.

Below are descriptions of the types of appeals we may consider, including those involving special circumstances around your course load and academic performance. Please read through the information carefully and contact our office before starting any appeal process so we can guide you through it.

Appeal Types

EXPECTED FAMILY CONTRIBUTION APPEAL

Some students and families experience unique circumstances that affect their ability to pay their college costs. The income you report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an essential factor in determining your financial need. If one of the following changes has occurred and the income reported on the FAFSA is now invalid, our financial aid staff may be able to help you appeal your expected family contribution:

  • Prolonged* loss of income due to unemployment of your parent (dependent students only)
  • Prolonged* loss of income due to unemployment of you or your spouse (independent students only)
  • Prolonged* reduction of income due to pay cut or reduced hours of your parent (dependent students only) or of you or your spouse (independent students only)
  • The death of a financial contributor (spouse and/or parent)
  • Conversion of a regular IRA into a Roth IRA by transferring funds

*The Office of Financial Aid defines "prolonged" as three months or more.

How to file an EFC appeal

The first step is to contact us at (415) 422-3387 or financialaid@usfca.edu so we can assess your eligibility and help identify the required documentation before you start the appeal process. More detail on how we review appeals is listed below.

If your appeal is approved, our office will review your eligibility for Federal and State need-based aid. Some changes may not result in increased Federal or State aid eligibility. Typically an increase of institutional aid is not considered. 

DEPENDENCY APPEAL

Under federal guidelines, most undergraduate students are considered dependents of their parents for the purposes of filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and must provide parent income information on their FAFSA. The dependency appeal process allows a student with extenuating circumstances to ask to be considered independent of their parents, even though they do not meet any of the independent student criteria on the FAFSA.

Examples of extenuating circumstances:

  • Your parents are incarcerated
  • You left home due to an abusive family environment
  • You do not know where your parents are and you are unable to contact them
  • You are older than 21 but not 24 and are unaccompanied and either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless

How to file a Dependency appeal

The first step is to contact us at (415) 422-3387 or financialaid@usfca.edu so we can assess your eligibility and help identify the required documentation before you start the appeal process. More detail on how we review appeals is listed below.

ENROLLMENT ADJUSTMENT APPEAL

Students who add or drop courses after the enrollment lock date cannot receive adjustments to their financial aid award unless an enrollment adjustment appeal is approved by the appeals committee.

Enrollment Change Timeline:

  • The last day to add a course is the Monday in Week 2 of the term
  • The last day to drop a course is the Friday in Week 3 of the term
  • The financial aid enrollment lock takes effect on the Saturday of Week 3 of the term (the day after the last drop date)

How to file an Enrollment Adjustment appeal

Complete the form below for any Enrollment Adjustment appeals

SATISFACTORY ACADEMIC PROGRESS (SAP) APPEAL

Students who are not meeting USF’s requirements for satisfactory academic progress (SAP) in their coursework are ineligible to receive financial aid. Students may appeal to have their financial aid reinstated if there are extraordinary circumstances beyond their control that are affecting their ability to make sufficient progress. Acceptable circumstances include:

  • The death of an immediate family member or close relative (i.e. mother, father, grandparent, sibling, or immediate family such as a related aunt or uncle)
  • A serious injury or illness (physical or mental) that required medical intervention
  • Significant, unanticipated family obligations due to medical issue or illness
  • A catastrophic loss due to fire, flood, or natural disaster that affects the student’s academic attendance or performance

How to file an SAP appeal

The university notifies students who are not making satisfactory progress after grades have been posted for the spring semester. Students will be able to complete and submit their appeal online. Students not meeting SAP requirements include those who fail to maintain the minimum GPA for their specific grade level/program, fail to complete 67% percent of attempted credits, or exceed the maximum time frame of 150% of the published program length. Please note the appeal of a financial aid suspension is a separate process from an appeal of academic suspension. The two processes are not related and approval of an academic suspension does not automatically remove the suspension from financial aid.

APPEAL REVIEW PROCESS

Initial Counseling

The first step in the appeal process is to contact the Office at (415) 422-3387 or financialaid@usfca.edu. During this session a financial aid specialist will review your account in conjunction with the special circumstances you describe to determine (to the best degree possible) if an appeal is allowable under federal regulation for the circumstances you describe. The specialist will also check to make sure you can benefit from the appeal, if the change you request is approved.

The specialist will then outline the appeal process and provide you with the necessary steps to complete your appeal and submit your documentation (for example, for an EFC appeal, a letter of termination from an employer or tax statements showing reduced personal or business income; for a dependency appeal, a letter from a social worker or high school guidance counselor documenting family circumstances that would support this appeal). An appeal submitted without documentation will not be reviewed.

Note: The specialist will be happy to suggest types of documentation you can submit to document your circumstances. However, each appeal request is unique to the life circumstances of the applicant. While a specialist may be able to offer you guidance, you will need to carefully consider your circumstances and (in many cases) seek out third-party documentation of your circumstances before moving forward.

Review of Documentation

Once you have completed all the necessary forms and submitted documentation of your appeal, a financial aid specialist will carefully review your request. If additional documentation is needed, you will be notified to submit additional information. For dependency appeals: Documentation that you provide should (whenever possible) be obtained from a neutral third party, such as a doctor, lawyer, minister, employer, or government entity. Documentation is vital, as we can only approve what we can document.

Review Committee

The financial aid specialist will have your appeal/supporting documentation reviewed to determine if your request is able to be approved. You will be notified by email of the outcome of your appeal decision. If your appeal is approved, the Office of Financial Aid will adjust your FAFSA as permitted by the Department of Education and will inform you of any additional aid eligibility that your appeal may have produced. If your appeal is denied, you may file an appeal in writing to the Director of Financial Aid. The decision of the director is final, and the Department of Education does not accept requests for appeals.

Submission of an appeal does not guarantee approval. Students are responsible for payment of their tuition and any fees they may incur during the appeal process.