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Financial Aid Appeals

CSULB recognizes that many of our students and their families have been affected by the global pandemic. We want to make sure that you know what to do if your family is experiencing financial loss due to COVID-19 or any other reason that has negatively affected your family's circumstances. As a reminder, your 2021-2022 financial aid application, whether the FAFSA or Dream Act Application, was completed based upon 2019 income information. If you or your parents experienced a significant change in circumstances, we may be able to assist.

There are several types of appeals through the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, which we go into in more detail below. For some families, several appeals might be relevant, while other families might only want to submit a single type of appeal. Each appeal will require a statement that explains your family's circumstances and, usually, will also ask for some form of supporting documentation.

 

Income Appeals

 

What is an Income Appeal?

An Income Appeal allows you to demonstrate any significant changes to your family's circumstances since submitting your financial aid application. Income appeals are meant to ensure that the information on your financial aid application best represents your family's circumstances and ability to contribute to your education. Income appeals are generally based on changes to your family's income or assets. The Income Appeal is an eform that is available on our Forms page.

Income Appeal approvals are not guaranteed and you should make a plan to cover your University balance regardless of the outcome of your appeal.

When should I submit an Income Appeal?

If your family's circumstances have changed significantly either since you submitted your financial aid application or since the tax year reported on your application, you should consider submitting an income appeal. Income Appeals are usually based on significant changes to income or assets, such as: job loss or reduction in work hours, a death in the family, and/or divorce or separation. For dependent students, usually these changes will have occurred with their parents, while independent students will generally be appealing for themselves and/or their spouse, if applicable.

The following circumstances will not be considered for an appeal: consumer debt, high mortgage or rent payments, gambling income.

What other information do I need to turn in?

Depending on the reason you are submitting an Income Appeal, the suggested documentation will vary. In all cases, we will ask that your family submit their 2020 federal tax returns and 2020 W2 or 1099 forms along with the Income Appeal form. For other common situations where you would be submitting an Income Appeal, the required documentation is listed below. If you are not able to provide the required documents, please make an appointment with a Beach Central Counselor.

  • Documentation of Loss of Income: Copy of EDD Unemployment benefits required and copy of employment status letter from employer. Employment letter must be on letterhead and include the effective date that you became unemployed or a copy of your resignation letter. If loss of employment occurred after 2021, provide your most recent year to date pay stub.

  • Documentation of Significant Reduction of Income from Employment: Provide employer letter on letterhead that confirms the reduction in hours or pay, effective date of change, signature and date. Copy of 2-3 most recent paystubs from each employer, if you have a current year to date paystub(s), please include a copy.

  • Documentation of One-time and non-recurring income: Provide copy of supporting documents, which shows income, such as the 1099 form. In your personal statement, explain why this is a special circumstance.

  • Documentation of Divorce or Separation: Provide proof of separate residences, such as a utility bill or lease agreement along with either court documentation or letter on letterhead from an attorney. Note: Dependent students whose parents are separated and living together cannot appeal separation of income by federal regulations.

  • Documentation of Death of a Parent or Spouse: Provide a copy of the death certificate or obituary.

Why do you need my family's most recent tax returns?

Income appeals might be based on the most reasonable timeframe to most accurately account for the change in your family's circumstances. Where possible, we will use documentation of that change, such as your family's most recent tax returns. These also allow us to see changes over time and get a better understanding of your family's financial health.

I'm being asked to project my income, but I'm not working. What do I turn in?

Financial Aid and Scholarships does assume that most people will be working at some point in the next 12 months. Please think carefully about all sources of income that you might have access to in the 12 months we are reviewing. You would likely want to include a clear and detailed explanation of why you don't believe you'll have income earned from work during that time period.

What happens if my Income Appeal is approved?

You will receive an email notification that your Income Appeal was approved. You will also be able to review any adjusted awards in your myCSULB Student Center.

What happens if my Income Appeal is denied?

If your Income Appeal is denied, you have the option of re-appealing with new information. You can also consider creating a financing plan out of several types of loans and a payment plan through Student Financial Services.

There are resources on campus to assist you as well. Student Financial Services offers financial hardship resources on their website. In addition, other organization on campus, such as Basic Needs and ASI offer assistance. Please review our Campus Resources page for some options.

 

Cost of Attendance Adjustments

 

What is a Cost of Attendance Adjustment request?

A Cost of Attendance Adjustment request allows a student to demonstrate that they have significantly higher educationally-related expenses than on the standard Cost of Attendance. All expenses must have incurred during the given academic year (for example, for the 2021-2022 year, all expenses would need to have occurred between July 2021 and May 2022). The Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request is an eform that is available on our Forms page.

When should I submit a Cost of Attendance Adjustment request?

You would submit a Cost of Attendance Adjustment request if you have expenses related to your education that exceed the standard items in your Cost of Attendance. These might be things like buying a computer, dependent care for when you're in class, and/or significant necessary health care expenses.

Keep in mind that certain expenses will not be considered for adjustment. These include: utility bills, car payments, car insurance, health insurance premiums and co-pays, purchase of a car, or routine maintenance of a car

What other information do I need to turn in?

Depending on the type of adjustment you are requesting, you will need to submit a statement explaining the circumstances and also supporting documentation for the expense. Ideally, the supporting documentation will show the date of payment, the amount paid, and what the expense was.

What if my expenses aren't listed on the form?

If you have educationally-related expenses that aren't listed on the form, you should make an appointment with one of the financial aid counselors in Beach Central. They can review your situation with you and determine if you are able to submit a request for review.

What happens if my Cost of Attendance Adjustment request is approved?

You will receive an email notification that your Cost of Attendance Adjustment request was approved. If you submitted the request in order to borrow more in loan funding, you will be able to do that. If you submitted the request to make room for additional scholarship funding you are eligible for, our office will process that for you.

What happens if my Cost of Attendance Adjustment request is denied?

If your Cost of Attendance Adjustment request is denied, you have the option of re-appealing with new information. You can also consider creating a financing plan out of several types of loans and a payment plan through Student Financial Services.

There are resources on campus to assist you as well. Student Financial Services offers financial hardship resources on their website. In addition, other organization on campus, such as Basic Needs and ASI offer assistance. Please review our Campus Resources page for some options.

 

Dependency Override Appeals

 

What is a Dependency Override Appeal?

A Dependency Override Appeal allows a student to appeal their dependency status on their financial aid application. The Dependency Override Appeal is an eform that is available on our Forms page.

When should I submit a Dependency Override Appeal?

If you are a dependent student, who faces special circumstances or challenges that prevents you from providing parental information on your financial aid application, you should consider a Dependency Override Appeal. Examples of a special circumstance or challenge might include, but is not limited, to: drug abuse, parental abandonment, and/or an abusive family environment.

The following circumstances - on their own - do not merit a dependency override: parents refusing to contribute to your educational costs, parents being unwilling to provide information on your financial aid application, parents residing in another country, parents not claiming you as a dependent on their tax returns.

What other information do I need to turn in?

As with all appeals, the more information we are able to review, the better. However, we at least need a signed and dated statement from you about your situation. If you also have court documentation or letters from third-parties, such as social workers, counselors, etc., those are helpful as well.

If you are unable to provide any supporting documentation for your situation, you will be asked to schedule an appointment with a Financial Aid Counselor to discuss next steps.

What happens if my Dependency Override Appeal is approved?

You will receive an email notification that your Dependency Override Appeal was approved. The Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will move forward in reviewing your financial aid application as an independent student.

What happens if my Dependency Override Appeal is denied?

If your Dependency Override Appeal is denied, you have the option of re-appealing with new information. Otherwise, the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships will continue to review your financial aid application, considering you a dependent student. You will likely need to provide your parental information on the FAFSA or Dream Application.

I live on my own; do I qualify for a dependency override?

Being totally self-sufficient or independent on its own is not grounds for a dependency override. This includes supporting yourself financially or not being in contact with your parents. A dependency override would generally require special circumstances that would make it unreasonable or inappropriate to expect your family to contribute information or financially to your education. If you have questions about whether your situation applies, consider meeting with a Financial Aid counselor in Beach Central to talk it over.

 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Professional Judgment?

Professional Judgment is the discretion granted to financial aid administrators by law to make adjustments to a student's financial aid application due to special circumstances. All professional judgment decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and must be fully documented. In general, each professional judgment decision is made on its own; a financial aid administrator cannot automatically accept a professional judgment decision made for the same student by a financial aid administrator at another school. Professional judgment decisions are the sole discretion of a financial aid administrator and cannot be appealed to the Department of Education.

How long does it take to review my appeal?

Usually an appeal will be reviewed by a staff member within 4-6 weeks of submission. However, during the summer, which is our peak processing period, an appeal may be reviewed within two months of submission.

Any request for additional documentation or information may delay the review of your appeal. Make sure to submit all requested documentation at the time you first submit your appeal.

What is a SAP appeal?

A Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) appeal is an option for students who are not meeting one or more of the SAP standards. A SAP appeal could reinstate your eligibility for financial aid, depending on your situation. A SAP appeal does not change your eligibility for aid or your dependency status. For more information on SAP appeals, visit our Understanding SAP page.