Special Circumstances Appeals

Financial Aid Appeals for Special or Unusual Circumstances

Whatever your financial situation is we’ll support you along your journey to earning a degree at the University of Arizona. There are many circumstances that may have an impact on the financial aid you were offered. Depending on your situation, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA) may be able to make adjustments to the information you reported on your FAFSA or your Cost of Attendance. These adjustments could result in a change to your financial aid eligibility.

If you believe your financial aid offer does not reflect your current circumstances, please review the appeal information below and contact our office. Remember, we have a full team of dedicated staff ready to help you along the way.

Please be aware, all appeals must be submitted and processed no later than the last day of the term for which the student is enrolled. 

Cost of Attendance (COA) Appeal

The Cost of Attendance (COA) represents the average expenses paid by University of Arizona students in various student circumstances. The COA helps determine your financial aid offer. Learn more about the COA and how it impacts your financial aid offered. 

If you are attending classes on at least a half time status (Undergraduates = 6 units, Graduate/Professional = 5 units), your COA is the estimate of:

  • tuition and fees
  • room and board (or living expenses for students who do not contract with the school for room and board)
  • books, supplies, transportation, loan fees, and miscellaneous expenses (including a personal computer)
  • iCourse fees

You can view the University of Arizona’s estimated COAs by selecting the appropriate link below:

OSFA may be able to increase your COA if you have allowable expenses that you are incurring during the academic year that are either not already included in your standard COA or are larger than what is included in the standard budget.

The following expenses are examples of expenses that can be considered:

  • Cost of Child Care / Dependent Care 
  • Purchase of a computer 
  • Rent or utility expenses that exceed the estimated COA

A COA Appeal may also be requested in order to help clear an overaward.

Supporting documentation must be submitted with each appeal in order to verify the paid expenses.

To begin the process of submitting a COA Appeal, please contact OSFA to request an online form.

If a student indicates their educational expenses are more than the University of Arizona standard cost of attendance, they will need to provide official documentation and explanation of these expenses. Below is a list of what specific documentation is acceptable for each potential category a student may be interested in increasing. 

A student is given a standard budget amount for a variety of educational expenses for the year. This is based on the university’s average cost of living.  When a student exceeds these standards, we can increase their COA based on the documentation provided. At the bottom of this document is a table of the University of Arizona's standard budget for each category for your review. 

  • Proof of Rent/Mortgage: Submit expenses for the student only.

    • If married or living with roommates, the cost is split evenly between contributing household members.
    • Additional expenses cannot be added if a student lives in military housing.
  • Proof of Utilities: Utility statements should be submitted for the previous 3 months. The student’s share is then averaged to calculate expenses.
  • Food: Not currently included on the COA Appeal form. However, the student may submit documentation within the Medical Category (ex. a note from a dietitian or DRC with estimated monthly costs) if the food expenses are due to a medical condition.
  • Childcare/Dependent Care: Documentation may include a personal statement from caregiver, daycare bills, university daycare form, etc. The student can only include costs that accrue during the time of class.
  • Books: Acceptable documentation includes itemized receipts of school books and supplies (art students purchasing software or writing utensils, etc.). It is unacceptable to provide screenshots of bookstore charges or receipts without an itemized list (Bursars receipts included).
  • Transportation
    • Acceptable: 

      • Documentation (such as Google Maps) of the route driven to and from school must be provided. Appeals for mileage will be approved in cases where the mileage expenditure (based on the $0.445 per mile, the # of days per week, and the number of weeks in the semester that the commute is made) exceeds the standard COA budget. 
      • Major vehicle repair (need itemized list in student’s name).
      • Flight costs to home residence.
    • Unacceptable:
      • Car payments
      • Routine Maintenance (oil changes, air filters, batteries etc.)
  • Cell Phone: Acceptable documentation is the cell phone provider bill which must be in the student’s name AND must indicate only their portion of the bill.
  • Medical Insurance: Student must provide an insurance bill in the student’s name.
    • Dependent Students: Can submit only if they are not covered within their parent’s policy
  • Out of Pocket Medical Expenses: These are not included in a student’s budget. Students can include both one-time expenses (an eye doctor visit with new glasses) AND re-occurring expenses (medical treatments). Bills which indicate the “patient’s responsibility” should be provided. 
  • Computer: A student may request funding for a computer one time per academic career. We can accept a billing statement or an estimated print out. This can include hardware/software programs. Special documentation from their department is required for students who have computer expenses above $3000. 
  • Professional Conference Attendance: This is for graduate students only. Special documentation from the student’s department is needed for travel and hotel expenses. Acceptable documentation includes a receipt or print-out of conference registration fees, airline and hotel receipts.

Estimated Standard Budget Amounts

Rent $677.50 $833
Utilities $150 $200
Food $555 (on-campus), $450 (off-campus) $411
Childcare/Dependent Care $0 $0
Books $450 (per term) $600 (per term)
Transportation $194 $222
Cell Phone $85 $85
Medical Insurance $255 $222
Medical (Out of Pocket) $0 $0
Computer $0 $0
Conference Not Available $0

Dependency Override (DO) Appeal

The Dependency Override Appeal is available for students who have unusual circumstances that may qualify them for independent status which could have an impact on a student’s financial aid eligibility. OSFA may be able to update your dependency status if you have qualifying unusual circumstances and documentation to support it. Examples of acceptable and unacceptable scenarios are listed below.   

If you are experiencing homelessness, please complete the Unaccompanied or Homeless Youth Verification form, found on our forms page.

The conditions listed below, alone or in combination, do not qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override:

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education.
  • Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

Qualifying Circumstances

  1. Abandonment by parents
  2. An abusive family environment that threatens the student's health or safety
  3. The student is unable to locate their parents

In such cases a dependency override might be warranted. If you believe that you have other unusual circumstances that do not fall under the qualifying circumstances above, then you will be required to explain your circumstances and provide the required documentation.

To begin the process of submitting a DO Appeal, please contact the OSFA to request an online form.

  • A signed personal statement
  • You may also include official documents which can include a court order or official Federal or state documentation
  • Please ensure the documentation submitted addresses the qualifying circumstance you are appealing

We understand that you may be eagerly anticipating a decision on your appeal. Our office will review your appeal and submitted documentation as quickly as possible to ensure a timely response but within 2-3 weeks so that you may be better prepared to determine how you will pay for college.

If you do not have circumstances that would qualify for a dependency override, you must correct your FAFSA to include your parent’s information.

  • If your parent(s) refuses to include their information on the FAFSA, they can be directed to review the Parental Data Override Form to potentially qualify for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loans only. 

You may qualify as an Independent student if you are under 24 years old and:

  • you are married,
  • you have dependents (and provides more than 50% of support),
  • you are an orphan,
  • you are a veteran or active duty member of the US Armed Forces.

We encourage you to answer the corresponding dependency status questions on the FAFSA appropriately. You may also be required to verify your status with the school.

Your independent student status will renew each academic year unless circumstances change. You will still need to complete the FAFSA each year. If circumstances change and you no longer need to appeal your dependency status in the following year allowing you to add parent information to your following year FAFSA, you will be considered a dependent student unless you otherwise meet independent student requirements for that year”

Family Contribution (FC) Appeal

Your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is used to determine what types of and how much financial aid you are eligible to receive. Your EFC is calculated using all the information you reported on your FAFSA, including the household taxed and untaxed income, assets, and benefits (such as unemployment or Social Security), family size and the number of family members who are attending college during the academic year.

If you or your family's financial situation has changed since filing the FAFSA due to special circumstances or if there are certain expenses not reflected on the FAFSA, you may request to submit a Family Contribution Appeal. The following financial situations are examples of special circumstances that can be considered:

  • Loss of employment
  • Reduction in earnings
  • Paid medical costs not covered by insurance
  • Death of a parent
  • Tax Liens
  • K-12 Private Education Tuition

Supporting documentation must be submitted with each appeal in order to verify the change in circumstances.

The following are not considered special circumstances:

  • Pending reduction in income due to fluctuating commissions or consumer debt
  • Refusal of a parent to provide financial support to the student

To begin the process of submitting a Family Contribution Appeal, please contact OSFA  to request an appeal.

Note: If you already have an EFC of zero (0), you are not eligible to complete an FC appeal.


Unemployment o A copy of employment separation letter, including verification of severance pay or retirement benefits (or the lack thereof),
o Or a copy of a letter or statement establishing the amount of eligibility for unemployment benefits;
o Or copies of recent W2s and 1040 Tax Form or Tax Return Transcript if their current income is less than their previous year’s income.
Student, Spouse, Parents
Disability or Injury o Copies of statement(s) reflecting eligibility for benefits, monthly amount received and start and end dates of payments;
o Or copies of current W2s and 1040 Tax Form or Tax Return Transcript if their current income is less than their previous year’s income.
Student, Spouse, Parents
Loss of Income o A copy of termination notice of other income (e.g., social security benefits, trust payments, alimony, child support).
o If currently employed, submit last 2 paycheck stubs
Student, Spouse, Parents
Death of Spouse or Parent o Required to provide the date of the event;
o And copies of supporting documentation or certificates.
Spouse or Parents
Report of One-Time Income

o Required to provide a copy of your previous year’s 1099-R or other financial statement of one-time income (e.g., early IRA distribution, conversions and rollovers)
o Prior, prior year tax forms
o Prior year tax forms

Student, Spouse, Parents
Medical Treatment Copy of the statement(s) from the insurance provider, pharmacy or medical facilities, stipulating the amount of the medical expenses paid that were not covered by insurance. Student, Spouse, Parent, Household
Private Education (K-12) Copy of tuition statement that includes total tuition cost as well as any financial assistance received. Student Siblings (if Dependent), Student children (if Independent)
Tax Liens Statement from the Internal Revenue Service and/or State Tax Board indicating monthly payment amount on back taxes owed. Student, Spouse, or Parents
Court Ordered Payments Receipt of payments Student, Spouse, or Parents

Review the table below for estimated processing timeframes based on the date you submit your Family Contribution Appeal. We encourage you to submit your completed appeal as soon as possible. In order to prevent any delay of your initial review, be sure to check out our list of required documentation above.


Appeals submitted after October 1, 2022 can expect a response in approximately 4 weeks.


Submit your Family Contribution Appeal between the dates:

Receive a response by:
March 20-May 1 June 1
May 2-June 1 July 1
June 2-July 1 September 15
July 2-August 15 October 1
August 16-October 1 November 1
Appeals submitted after October 1, 2023 can expect a response in approximately 4 weeks.

Please note, an approved appeal will not necessarily result in a change to your financial aid. We recommend using your current financial aid offer to plan for your educational expenses until you receive an updated financial aid offer.

General Appeal (GAP)

Students who have experienced extenuating circumstances that directly impacted their financial aid offer have the option to appeal based on those circumstances by submitting a General Appeal (GAP) to the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid (OSFA). All GAP appeals are reviewed by the OSFA Appeal Committee. GAP appeal decisions are final and will be communicated to the student via CatMail.

  • Note, this appeal should not be used for:

    • Merit Tuition Scholarship or Arizona Assurance Appeals or Deferments
    • Loss of income or changes to student’s and/or their family’s financial circumstances or other extenuating circumstances regarding a student’s individual costs and or family situation. Students experiencing these types of extenuating circumstances must submit either a Family Contribution Appeal, Cost of Attendance Appeal or a Dependency Override Appeal, depending on their specific situation.
    • Satisfactory Academic Progress Appeals

General Appeal Submission Deadlines:

Semester Submission Deadline

Spring 2024 General Appeal Form

*Spring appeals are only available to those admitted/beginning enrollment during Spring 2024 semester

January 19, 2024

Please review common examples of situations giving rise to a request for an appeal below. Please note that while these situations may warrant submitting an appeal, they do not guarantee approval of the appeal.

  • Student’s own mental/physical illness, injury, or disability
  • Personal Reasons (students will be asked to explain the personal reasons in the appeal)
  • Family circumstances, including death of a family member
  • Other extenuating circumstances that are beyond the student’s control (students will be asked to explain the personal reasons in the appeal)

In general, appeals based solely on financial need cannot be considered. Students are encouraged to use Scholarship Universe to apply for scholarships for which a student is matched. 

  • Complete the General Appeal form in its entirety, including a personal statement explaining the circumstances of the request. Attach additional pages if necessary.

  • Attach supporting documentation (e.g., a letter from a religious leader related to religious missions, a letter of acceptance into a non-Arizona-study abroad program, a call to active duty, a letter from an attorney or other individual confirming circumstances beyond the student’s control, etc.)

Important: The University reserves the right to modify this process at any time.  Submission of a General Appeal does not guarantee approval. Incomplete or missing documentation will delay the appeal process. Any changes to financial aid awards will be contingent on the types of funds available, eligibility policies, and regulations. After initial review, additional documentation may be required. Appeal review may result in required application corrections. Students waiting for an appeal decision should be fully prepared to assume responsibility for all course enrollment and account balance payment, regardless of the appeal decision. 

Additional Appeals

To learn more about additional appeal options, such as the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) appeal and the Merit Tuition Scholarship and Arizona Assurance Appeal and Deferment Request, review the appeals section of our forms page.

2023-2024 Appeal Dates





Family Contribution Appeal March 20, 2023

For students only attending Fall 2023: December 1, 2023  

For students attending both Fall 2023 and Spring 2024: April 15, 2024

May 1, 2024 August 2, 2024 Tax Return Transcripts, 1040 Tax Forms, Termination Letters, 1099R, Medical Bills, Death Certificate, etc. Documents can be from 12-months prior to the semester you are first enrolled within the 2023/2024 academic year, or within the current academic year.
Dependency Override Week of February 13, 2023 April 15, 2024 May 1, 2024 August 2, 2024 Letters or official documents from teachers, counselors, medical authority, government authority, etc.
Cost of Attendance Late-July

For students only attending Fall 2023: December 1, 2023

For students attending both Fall 2023 and Spring 2024: April 15, 2024

May 1, 2024 August 2, 2024 Itemized Receipts, Bills, Lease/Mortgage Statements, SEVIS fee receipts,
etc. beginning May 2023. *Documentation must be in the student’s name.
Requested Cost of Attendance appeal to clear an overaward (OA) Late-July

For students with overawards which occurred in Fall 2023: December 6, 2023

For students with overawards which occurred in Spring 2024: May 1, 2024

May 1, 2024 August 2, 2024 Itemized Receipts, Bills, Lease/Mortgage Statements, SEVIS fee receipts,
etc. beginning May 2023. *Documentation must be in the student’s name.

*Preferred Submission Dates are based on a reasonable amount of time needed by OSFA to fully process appeals by the end of the semester. Appeals submitted after the preferred submission date will be accepted, but we cannot guaranteed there will be sufficient time to allow for the processing of the appeal. OSFA highly recommends all appeals be submitted as early in the semester as possible and no later than the preferred submission date.