Process for Unusual Circumstance Appeal (Federal Aid)

You may notify the Office of Financial Aid of your unusual circumstances where you cannot provide parent information on the FAFSA by completing the steps. We cannot guarantee that an appeal will result in a change in dependency status.

If you are attending Montco during the 2024-25 academic year (Fall 2024, Spring 2025, Summer 2025):

  1. Complete and submit your 2024-25 FAFSA with accurate income information from 2022 as instructed on the form (if you have not already done so).
  2. For first-time requests only, submit the 2024-25 Unusual Circumstances Form (along with the required documentation listed) detailing your current situation. Documentation of unusual circumstances may include but are not limited to:
    • Documented interview between the student and a financial aid counselor;
    • Submission of a court order or official federal or state documentation of the incarceration of student’s parents or legal guardians;
    • Written statement that confirms the unusual circumstances from a third-party, such as child welfare agency, case worker, law enforcement, attorney, etc.;
    • In the absence of documentation described above, other documentation the financial aid counselor determines adequate to confirm the unusual circumstance.
  3. For dependency override renewals, if you have an approved dependency override in a prior award year at Montco, the Financial Aid Office will automatically review your received FAFSA.
  • If there is no conflicting information on your FAFSA regarding your dependency status compared with the previous documentation, we will automatically update your dependency status to independent.
  • If there is conflicting information on your FAFSA regarding your dependency status, we will reach out to you to obtain additional documentation.

Please Note: If you have a Dependency Override at a previous institution, please let us know by emailing so we can determine the next best steps. 

If you are attending Montco during the 2023-24 academic year (Fall 2023, Spring 2024, Summer 2024):

The process above is the same for the 2023-24 year. Please review the above steps and make sure you complete the FAFSA for the appropriate year (2023-24) using 2021 information. 



Unusual Circumstance appeals are approved in certain limited and exceptional cases. Each institution has their own qualifying circumstances regarding granting dependency status; however, we can accept documentation from your previous institution if you had a Dependency Override or Unusual Circumstance appeal in the previous academic year.

Please note: According to federal guidelines, the following situations are not considered “unusual circumstances”:

  1. The unwillingness and/or inability of your parents to financially support you.
  2. Living on your own and paying your own bills.
  3. Parents not claiming a student as a dependent on their income taxes.

Any student who has obtained a dependency override in a prior academic year at Montco will be considered independent for each subsequent award year unless the student informs the institution that circumstances have changed or the institution has specific conflicting information regarding a student’s independent status.

If you have questions about a possible federal aid increase due to income loss, contact the financial aid team by email at (from your Montco student account) or schedule a virtual appointment.

Process for Unusual Circumstance Appeal (PA State Aid)

If you are a Pennsylvania State Grant applicant/recipient, you will need to contact PHEAA for a “Financial Independent Form.” This process is separate than the one you will complete at Montco. PHEAA has the right to use a different definition for determining dependency status for the purpose of distributing PA grant funding. Contact PHEAA at 1-800-692-7392 to request the form to be considered an independent student for PA State Grant purposes.

Send your completed Financial Independent form, along with the required documentation outlined, to PHEAA in one of the following ways:

If you have questions about a possible PA State Grant increase due to income loss, call PHEAA at 1-800-692-7392 (TTY: Dial 711 for hearing impaired).

Additional information:

Learn more about Special Circumstances with this informative video below. NOTE:  We also have other videos to help students and parents with financial aid. Check out our video library.