Sometimes students find themselves in situations outside of the normal financial aid process. That is why appeal processes are available to assist where the aid programs allow. But understand, just because there is an appeal process, appeals are not always approved. Each appeal is reviewed on a case-by-case basis on the merits of that appeal and within the confines of regulations and comparative situations for fairness and equity.
Additionally, while we would like to award additional assistance to all students and know there are very needy situations experienced by students and families, your award package itself is not appealable. Aid programs are awarded based on eligibility factors, timing of your FAFSA, and limits to funding available.
Income Changes and Unique Educational Expenses
Your FAFSA is completed using financial data from 2 years ago. While most families experience consistent income from year-to-year, other situations like job loss, retirement, death, or divorce can change income matters significantly. We review such situations with an eye on how it may affect your aid eligibility. Ultimately, staff can help to determine if your situation is worth your extra effort to collect additional documentation.
Students who have specific expenses related to their cost of education (i.e., child care for pre-school aged children, instrument purchases for performance majors) can inquire about appeals to their cost of education. However, recognize that such increases usually only impact some graduate and parent loan borrowing.
Student dependency status for financial aid purposes was set by Congress in 1988 and has had only minor changes. Whereas dependency prior to that was a function of parental support, dependency now is based on if your parent(s) are required to participate in the application process. We cannot make a student independent for aid purposes simply because a parent refuses to participate or will not pay for college. Unique situations where parents are unable or unavailable to participate can be examined. Contact One Stop if you are in this situation.
Academic Progress Standing
Federal aid is awarded to assist a student move toward their educational goals. Students are reviewed annually to ensure they are meeting GPA, pace, and timeframe standards. Students who are not meeting one or more standard have the ability to appeal their standing with a description of how they are not meeting requirements and how things will change to ensure progress achievement.
As always, appeals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and any approval will contain conditions that must be met each term until the student is once again meeting overall standards. Students approved on appeal who then fail to meet approval conditions are likely not to be approved again on appeal.
Bearcat Emergency Grant
UC has an emergency grant appeal process that is reviewed by a committee to provide limited assistance for students in an unexpected, emergency situation. Understand that this is NOT an appeal for additional aid per se, but all funding awarded in this process are considered awarded aid and are limited by your financial aid budget. Also, students who have not meet their financial obligation with the university (i.e., have an outstanding balance owed) or who have not exhausted their aid eligibility are not eligible for consideration.
Full-time Requirements for Undergraduate Scholarships
There are some situations that cannot be appealed. Aid program limitations have been put in place by Congress or UC to help students remain focused on their educational goals and protect the availability of aid
Federal Pell Grant Usage
Currently students are limited to 6 years of Federal Pell Grant. Your Pell usage is reviewed and each term of Pell is considered a half year of usage (due to 2 semesters equaling an academic year) and the usage is prorated if you are part-time. Your current total usage toward the 6-year limit is reported to you each year on your Student Aid Report after completing the FAFSA.
Pell-eligible co-op students should pay particular attention to this limit. Because most co-op students are full-time and will receive Pell during their co-op as well as in-class terms, the 6-year limit will be uses in 12 semesters of enrollment when generally an additional term or 2 might be needed to get the student to graduation. Such students should make a financial plan that accounts for this loss of Pell eligibility in their final term(s).
Federal Loan Maximums
Annual and aggregate (lifetime) limits are set for the federal student loan programs. Other than an otherwise dependent student being considered for independent loan amounts when a parent is denied a Federal Parent PLUS Loan, we are not authorized to increase loan limits.
Students should monitor their loan total loan usage as shown on the Student Aid Report sent following completion of the FAFSA to appropriately adjust loan use or make a financial plan to meet college costs if the aggregate limit is met prior to graduation.
UC scholarships at both the graduate and undergraduate level carry with them limits that all scholarship awardees should review.
Cost of Attendance Increases Beyond Educational Expenses
While there are limited educational expenses (i.e., child care for pre-school aged children, instrument purchases for performance majors) we can consider for an appeal to the student cost of education, we cannot cover all expenses that a student assumes or brings with them to college. Cost of attendance amounts are limited to educational expenses within reasonable averages set by Student Financial Aid and cannot cover a student’s overall family support, all personal costs assumed, or desired expense areas.