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Special Circumstances / Professional Judgment Appeals

UWF offers a financial aid appeals process for special or unusual circumstances. Adequate documentation is required.

Professional Judgment Appeals

At UWF, we recognize that special circumstances may exist that are not sufficiently addressed by the standardized federal student aid formulas on the FAFSA or estimated cost of attendance. To account for special circumstances, Sec. 479A(a) of the Higher Education Act allows institutions to make data value adjustments on a case-by-case basis. Adequate documentation is required.

Special Circumstance Appeal (EFC/SAI Appeal): Review and possible adjustment of data values that are used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and Student Aid Index (SAI) number. Example circumstances that may warrant an EFC/SAI appeal:

  • Significant changes in income
  • Disability/unemployment terminated
  • Death of parent or spouse
  • Unusually high and paid medical bills not covered by insurance
  • Significant repair expenses resulting from natural disaster.
Cost of Attendance (COA) Professional Judgment: Review and possible increase to a student's COA due to out-of-pocket expenses. Example circumstances that may warrant a COA adjustment:
  • Unusually high housing expenses*
  • Unusually high educational expenses*
  • Costs associated with a student's or dependent's disability not covered by insurance
*UWF's COA estimates are already adjusted for inflation; therefore, requests must document unusually high expenses not already accounted for in our standard COA calculations. 
An electronic appeal is not currently available for COA professional judgments. Students may email to inquire or start the appeal process.

Unusual Circumstance Appeal (Dependency Appeal): Unusual family circumstances that allow an applicant to apply as an independent student, i.e., parental data would not be required. Example circumstances that may warrant a dependency appeal:

  • Your parents are incarcerated
  • An abusive family environment that threatens student’s health or safety
  • Unable to locate parents
  • Death of a parent and no contact with other parent

Per federal regulations, none of the conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override:

  1. Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education.
  2. Parents will not provide information for the FAFSA or verification.
  3. Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  4. Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

Appeal Process

Submission process and student expectations:

  • Log into your student financial aid account at
  • Select the + - Request radio button.
  • Using the (+) radio button, select a Special Circumstance or Unusual Circumstance Appeal (if the option is faint, you are ineligible for that type of appeal).
  • Students selected for verification must first complete verification requirements before completing the appeal process. You will be automatically notified within your financial aid account.
  • Adequate documentation that supports the reason(s) for your appeal is required at the time of submission. Because the circumstances are specific to your situation, we cannot advise in advance of the documents required. Submit any and all relevant documents that support your reported circumstances.
  • Appeals for the current aid year will be initially reviewed within 7 to 10 business days after the form and documents have been submitted. Initial review of appeals received for an approaching aid year may take longer depending on when the appeal is submitted.
  • Once the request is initially reviewed, specific documentation may be requested.
  • Once the file is determined complete (which includes any requests for subsequent documentation), you will be notified of the decision in 7 to 10 business days.
  • Document deadlines and priority dates apply to the appeal process.
  • Student Accounts & Cashier's Fee payment Deadlines remain applicable regardless if you submit an appeal for review.
  • Approved appeals do not guarantee additional aid will be awarded.

For more information, please contact your Financial Aid Counselor or email