Special Circumstances

Special Circumstances/Dependency Appeals

Financial Special Circumstances

  • If your financial situation has changed due to loss of job or benefits, separation or divorce, death or other special circumstances, please visit our forms page and select either ‘Special Circumstances Dependent’ or ‘Special Circumstances Independent’ for the appropriate academic year.
  • Please be sure to include supporting documentation. Once we have received this information, a determination will be made for additional financial aid awards if funds are available.

Dependency Special Circumstances

  • For the 2023-24 Award Year, you must still indicate an unusual circumstance and request a determination of independence with our school to allow us to process their FAFSA form. The University of Rhode Island will notify you within 60 days  with a final determination of your dependency or other special circumstance. 
  • If you are granted an adjustment for unusual circumstances and are determined as and independent student, you will be independent for each subsequent award year at our institution unless your circumstances have since changed or we receive conflicting information about your status.
  • If we determine that you should not be considered independent, you will be eligible for dependent-level Direct Unsubsidized Loans unless you subsequently complete the FAFSA form as a dependent student by providing parental information. 
  • You will need to reaffirm your dependency status each year when filing the FAFSA.
  • Acceptable documentation may include:
    • A documented interview between you and the financial aid administrator;
    • Submission of a court order or official Federal or State documentation that your parents or legal guardian are incarcerated;
    • A documented phone call or written statement from an attorney, a guardian ad litem, a court-appointed special advocate (or similar), or a representative of a TRIO or GEAR UP program that confirms your circumstances and the person’s relationship to you.
    • A documented determination of independence made by a financial aid administrator at another institution in the same or a prior award year; or
    • Utility bills, health insurance, or other documents that demonstrate your separation from your parents or legal guardians.

Unaccompanied Homeless Youth Special Circumstances

In determining independence due to homelessness financial aid counselors will consider documentation from the following entities—provided through a documented phone call, written statement, or verifiable electronic data match.

  • A local educational agency homeless liaison, as designated by the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 11432(g)(1)(J)(ii)), or a designee of the liaison;
  • The director of an emergency or transitional shelter, street outreach program, homeless youth drop-in center, or other program serving individuals who are experiencing homelessness, or a designee of the director;
  • The director of a Federal TRIO program or a Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate program (GEAR UP) grant, or a designee of the director; or
  • A financial aid administrator at another institution who documented your circumstance in the same or a prior award year.

In the absence of documentation from any of the individuals described above, FAAs must make a case-by-case determination based upon the following:

  • A written statement from, or a documented interview with you that confirms that you are an unaccompanied homeless youth, or unaccompanied, at risk of homelessness, and self-supporting.