Unusual Circumstances

Unusual Circumstance (Dependency Override) is used to address a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation in which the student is unable to contact parents or where contact with parents poses a risk to such student. This would enable an otherwise dependent student to apply for financial aid without parent information. *Please note that we may be able to use a dependency override determination made by a financial aid administrator at another institution. Simply submit a copy of your determination letter for review.

Note:  Only submit a dependency override if your FAFSA has already been submitted.  If the Unusual Circumstance is denied, you will need to provide your parental information on your FAFSA.

Some examples of Unusual Circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  • Parental abandonment or estrangement;
  • Abuse or endangerment caused by parents;
  • Legally granted refugee or asylum status;
  • Human trafficking; or
  • Student or parental incarceration

Unusual Circumstances do not include:

  • Parents refusal to contribute to the student’s education.
  • Parents refusal to provide information for the FAFSA or verification.
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.
  • Minimal contact with your parent(s). 

If you would like us to review your unusual circumstance to see if your situation warrants a dependency override, please provide the following documents to our office:

  1. A detailed personal statement explaining your unusual circumstance. You must include the reason you are unable to provide parent information on the FAFSA, the timeline of events that occurred, and the type/frequency of contact you have with your parents now.
  2. One letter from a professional who can confirm or attest to your family situation. Professionals may include a member of the clergy, a counselor or a social worker. The letter should include professional title, on official letterhead (preferred), a detailed explanation of the family situation, dated within the current academic year, and signed.
  3. Any supporting documents that are relevant to your situation such as court orders, police reports, etc.

Review Process

The Unusual Circumstance review process typically takes 3-4 weeks from the date a completed request and all required documentation is received by the UH Mānoa Financial Aid Office. During peak processing times, it could take longer but no more than 60 days to be reviewed. Please be aware that not all cases result in an increase to a student’s aid package.

If a student is granted a dependency override, this status will continue for each subsequent award year unless the student informs us that their circumstances have changed or we have conflicting information about the student’s independence. In the case where it is determined that the student does not warrant a dependency override, the student will only be eligible for dependent-level Direct Unsubsidized Loans unless they subsequently complete the FAFSA form as a dependent student by providing parental information.