Special Circumstances

Special Circumstances and Unusual Circumstance Appeals

Professional Judgement Appeals

Occasionally, unique circumstances influence income for students and/or families. These circumstances have an impact on the ability to pay for college. Students and/or families may need to indicate special circumstances that may not be evident on the FAFSA. Or, circumstances may have changed.

When these situations arise, we may re-evaluate a student’s aid eligibility based on current circumstances using the Professional Judgement (PJ) process. Student should describe the circumstances in detail and must submit supporting documentation along with their request.  A processed FAFSA and completed verification, if selected, must be on file before a PJ can be considered.

At Chaffey College, our goal is to help ensure that students are presented with options to complete their education – This includes leveraging financial aid for your particular financial situation.

Special Circumstances

Expected Family Contribution Changes or Family Income Appeals 

We understand that students and their families may have special circumstances that cause a significant reduction in income that impacts their ability to contribute to the cost of college. The following are some examples of conditions that could warrant an income reduction.

  • Loss of Income (2022 income is significantly less than in 2021)
  • Death of a parent or the Independent student’s spouse
  • Divorce/legal separation of parents/Independent student and spouse
  • One-time income removal (e.g. inheritance, IRA distribution, retroactive lump-sum payment)
  • Reduced or loss of untaxed income or benefits


Family Contribution Appeal Deadlines

2023-2024 Deadlines

Spring 2023 - April 8, 2023


Unusual Circumstances Appeals 

Change of Dependency Status/Dependency Override

Unusual Circumstances are conditions that support a change to a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation. Examples of unusual circumstances include, but are not limited to:

Unsusual Circumstances refer to the conditions that justify an financial aid administrator making an adjustment to a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation. An override may only be granted on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual & exceptional circumstances. These circumstances must show compelling reason for a student to be considered independent rather than dependent.  The following are some examples of conditions that could warrant a Dependency Override:

  • Abusive family environments
  • Abandonment
  • Incarceration or institutionalization of both parents
  • An unsuitable household requiring legal intervention
  • Severe estrangement from parents
  • Death of a biological / adoptive parent

Typically, the Financial Aid office will begin to process dependency override appeals in May for the next award year. Processing time may take up to 4 weeks. You will be sent a notification of the result to your panther email account.

Renewal of Dependency Override

Beginning 2023-2024 if you had an APPROVED dependency override at Chaffey College in the prior aid year, you are not required to submit a dependency override appeal again. 

Dependency Override Appeal Deadlines

2023-2024 Deadlines

Spring 2023 - April 8, 2024

Professional Judgement Appeal Questionnaire

If you have special circumstances that you would like to have evaluated by a financial aid administrator, please answer the questions in the Professional Judgement Assessment Form.

The Financial Aid office will determine if your special conditions qualify for review in accordance with Federal, State, and Institutional guidelines.  If so, you will be required to submit an appeal along with supporting documentation for processing. Your financial aid file must be complete prior to submitting an appeal. A Financial Aid staff member will be in contact with you after you complete the questionnaire. Be sure you complete your FAFSA for the applicable award year online.