Financial Aid Appeals

Appealing Your FAFSA Eligibility

The introduction of COVID-19 has impacted many families, including our students at Utah State University.  If you or your family member(s) have experienced a significant loss of income due to COVID-19 or other extenuating circumstances, you may be eligible to receive increased financial aid assistance. If your 2019 financial situation no longer reflects your current situation, it may be beneficial to submit an Income Reduction Appeal. The following financial situations are examples of special circumstances that can be considered:

Significant Reduction in Earnings

If you have had a significant loss in your income since 2019, you can request an Income Reduction Appeal. Below are situations that can be considered for this appeal:

  • Employment change
  • Job loss or downgrade
  • Loss in financial benefits
  • Divorce or legal separation 
  • Death of a spouse or parent
  • Other situations may also merit review

The Following Circumstances May Not Qualify

  • Temporary reductions in income due to fluctuating markets or commissions that are not COVID-19 related
    (permanent reductions may be considered)
  • Consumer (non-medical) debt
  • Refusal of a parent to provide financial support to the student

Supporting Documentation Will Be Required and May Include

  • Signed statement that explains the loss of income and its current impact on your (or your family's) ability to pay for school
  • W-2(s)
  • 2020 IRS 1040 form
  • Paycheck stubs
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Other financial assistance received
  • Divorce or legal separation decree
  • Death certificate
  • Projected income table
  • Other documentation that helps your case

If your 2020 IRS 1040 forms do not reflect a significant reduction in income, we may require documentation that shows at least 6 months of reduced earnings.

Income Reduction Appeal - Potential Outcomes

  • In some cases the appeal will result in additional Federal Pell Grant eligibility.
  • In other cases, the appeal may result in more Subsidized and less Unsubsidized Loans.
  • In some cases, a significant loss of income may not affect overall eligibility.
  • If you already have a low or zero (0) EFC, an Income Reduction Appeal may not be warranted.

Other situations may also qualify for a professional judgement appeal. Please leave a message at (435) 797-1242 and we will call you back to discuss your options.


Other appeals that may result in more Federal Pell Grant eligibility:

New Dependent Appeal

If a new dependent becomes part of your household and will be supported over 50% during the school year, you may appeal to add them as a dependent on your application.

  • New dependents may include:
    • Unborn child
    • Adopted child or family member
    • A dependent appointed by the court
    • Other people that now live in your household
  • Supporting documentation may include:
    • Signed statement explaining impact of new dependent on household expenses
    • A doctor's note with expected due date (dependent must be born during school year)
    • Court or other documentation showing legal guardianship etc.
    • Other documentation may also be considered

Parent(s) Enrolled in College Appeal

If your parent(s) are currently enrolled at least half-time in a degree seeking program from an institution that is federal aid eligible, you may be able to appeal the number of people in your household attending college on your application. Supporting documentation may include:

  • Signed statement explaining financial impact of having a parent enrolled in college
  • Parent(s) proof of enrollment for the term or semester the appeal is submitted
  • Other documentation may also be considered

Medical Expense Appeal

If you or your family had recent, expensive medical or dental expenses that were not fully covered by insurance, a portion of these charges may be subtracted from the household income to see if it makes a difference in Federal Pell Grant or Direct Subsidized Loan eligibility. Supporting documentation may include:

  • Signed statement explaining the medical or dental issue and how it currently affects the student's ability to pay for college
  • Receipts of paid bills
  • Billing statements
  • Insurance statements
  • Payment plan documentation
  • Other documentation may also be considered

Federal Pell Grants are awarded only to undergraduate students who have not earned a bachelor's, graduate, or professional degree. If you already have a zero (0) EFC, you have been offered the maximum in federal student aid and cannot submit any of the above professional judgement appeals. Some undergraduate students who were recently married may be able to qualify for Federal Pell Grant funding by contacting the Financial Aid Office.


Other appeals that may result in more Student Loan eligibility:

Cost of Attendance Appeal

Your Cost of Attendance (COA) represents the average college expenses paid by USU students. If your actual expenses are larger than the averages listed, you may be able to appeal to increase your loan eligibility. Examples of expenses that can be considered:

  • Cost of child/dependent care
  • Housing or grocery expenses
  • Long distance travel expenses
  • Private education tuition for K-12
  • Other education-related expenses that are not being considered in the COA
  • Aviation and other more expensive programs can be discussed with your financial aid counselor and may not require an appeal

Purchase of Computer Appeal

Your Cost of Attendance (COA) can be increased for the recent, one-time purchase of a computer up to $1,500. Supporting documentation may include:

  • Signed statement explaining your need to purchase computer
  • Receipt of purchase
  • Credit card or bank statement documenting purchase
  • Advertisement for intended purchase including estimated price
  • Other documentation may also be considered

Medical Expense Appeal

Your Cost of Attendance (COA) can be increased for recent, expensive medical or dental expenses that were not fully covered by insurance. This appeal is only for the following expenses:

  • Student medical or dental expenses
  • Spouse medical or dental expenses
  • Student's dependent medical or dental expenses

Supporting documentation may include:

  • Signed statement explaining the medical or dental issue and how it currently affects the student's ability to pay for college
  • Receipts of paid bills
  • Billing statements
  • Insurance statements
  • Payment plan documentation
  • Other documentation may also be considered

All financial aid eligible students may appeal for more loan funding. Not all increases result in additional Direct Loan eligibility but may result in additional PLUS or private loan eligibility, instead. If you want to see if you might qualify for increased federal or private loan eligibility, please leave a message at (435) 797-1242 and we will call you back to discuss your options.


Important Information About the Appeal Process

  • Appeals are time-sensitive and subject to federal and institutional deadlines
  • Incomplete or missing documentation may delay the appeal process or result in deadlines being missed
  • Submission of an appeal does not guarantee approval
  • Appeals are approved or denied based upon the professional judgement of the Financial Aid Appeals Committee
  • After initial review, additional documentation may be required
  • Appeal decisions are final and cannot be overturned or re-appealed
  • Please allow 3-4 weeks for the appeal to reviewed and processed before a final result
  • You may appeal for the same extenuating circumstance no more than once
  • Students waiting for an appeal decision should be fully prepared to assume responsibility for account balance payments, regardless of the appeal decision
  • Students who were recently married may be able to update their FAFSA status by contacting the Financial Aid Office
  • The Financial Aid Office reserves the right to modify the appeal policy at any time
  • Appeal approvals may result in required FAFSA corrections and notifications
  • Any changes to financial aid awards will be contingent on the types of funds available, eligibility policies, and regulations