Federal financial aid regulations assume that a student’s family has primary responsibility for meeting educational costs. If a student is considered a dependent student according to the federal financial aid definition, then aid eligibility is determined using parent(s) income and asset information in addition to the student’s information.

Student dependency status is determined by the U.S. Department of Education, based on responses to specific questions on the FAFSA. For financial aid purposes, federal regulations have defined an independent student as one who meets AT LEAST ONE of the following conditions:

  • Born before January 1, 1998
  • Married as of the date FAFSA signed
  • Attending graduate level program of study during the 2021-2022 academic year
  • Currently serving on active duty in U.S. Armed Forces or a National Guard or Reserves (other than for training)
  • Veteran of U.S. Armed Forces (or will be a veteran as of June 30, 2022), or have attended a service academy and were released under a condition other than dishonorable
  • Have children who receive more than half their support from the student, OR have legal dependents, other than a spouse or children, who live with student and receive more than half their support from the student
  • Orphan, ward of the court, foster care (after age 13)
  • Emancipated Minor or in Legal Guardianship as determined by the court in her/his state of legal residence
  • A self-supporting unaccompanied youth who is homeless or at risk of homelessness (as certified by governmental or school agency)

A student who does not meet ANY of the above conditions is classified as a dependent student.

Additionally, an individual who does not qualify as an independent student under one of the above nine categories may be considered as “independent student” under Section 480(d) (7) of the HEA.  Under that provision, a student is considered to be an independent student if he or she is a “student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of other unusual circumstances.”

The HUHS Director of Financial Aid can exercise professional judgment to make a dependent student as independent student; however, does not have the authority to make an independent student a dependent student.

A dependency override occurs when a financial aid administrator exercises professional judgment and overrides dependency status for a student. 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.

Conditions that could merit a dependency override:

  • Documented abandonment
  • Complete alienation between parents and the student
  • Parental drug use, mental incapacity or incarceration
  • A verified unaccompanied youth who is homeless or who is at risk of homelessness *

Conditions that, individually or in combination with one another, do not qualify as “unusual circumstances” or that do not merit a dependency override include:

  • Parents refusing to contribute to the student’s education
  • Parents unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification
  • Parents not claiming the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Parent(s) residing overseas
  • Student demonstrating total self-sufficiency
  • Student does not wish to communicate with parents

The law requires that a determination of unusual circumstance(s) must be made each award year. A determination of independence in one award year does not mean the student will automatically be an independent student in a subsequent award year. The financial aid administrator must confirm that the conditions for determining the student to be independent still exist.  Decisions made at other institutions are not accepted.

*In order to be considered a homeless youth the student must be under the age of 22 or still in high school.  If the school encounters students who fit all of the parameters of being homeless or is at risk of being homeless but are age 22 or 23, and the student is not independent for some other reason, he or she would be a dependent student since he or she no longer fits the definition of “youth.”  In this case, the HUHS financial aid administrator could decide to do a dependence override and must follow all appropriate procedures for documented dependency overrides.

Students that believe his/her circumstances may qualify for a dependency override will need to complete the following steps. All dependency overrides are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and must be documented.

  1. Students must complete the FAFSA prior to submitting the Dependency Override Request form.
  2. Students need to download and complete all sections of the Dependency Override Request form.
  3. Students must provide documentation that supports the request for a dependency override. Students should make every effort to obtain all the listed documentation, missing documentation may cause the request to be rejected. Additionally, the need may arise for students to submit documentation not listed below.
    • Notarized Third Party Statements: Provide at least two letters from third-party adult individuals who personally have knowledge of the situation and who can verify the circumstances.
      • At least one letter must be from a guidance counselor, physician, social worker, clergy person, or another individual who has been involved in the circumstances in a professional capacity. This letter should be on professional letterhead.
      • All letters must include details as to how the person knows the student, how long they have known the student, and how they have been involved and/or have first-hand knowledge of the situation. The individuals submitting letters cannot be related to one another, nor can they reside at the same address. A telephone number and address where the individual can be reached for follow-up questions must be included.
      • All letters should be notarized
    • Additional Supporting Documentation: In addition to your request form and notarized third-party statements, students need to provide the following:
      • A copy of the student’s current lease, rental agreement or a signed statement from the current landlord verifying tenancy
      • Tax Transcript from the IRS for tax years 2019 and 2020.
      • W2’s for tax years 2019 and 2020.
      • Details of monthly expenses (utility bills, car payments, etc.)
      • Court documentation, police reports, arrest reports, etc. as applicable
      • Independent Verification Worksheet (e-form to be completed in the HUHS Financial Aid portal)
      • Copy of birth certificate; if adopted, copy of birth certificate issued after adoption proceedings.

4.  Students need to submit the Dependency Override Request form and all supporting documentation to the Financial Aid Office. With the exception of the third-party statements, all documentation should be loaded into the HUHS Financial Aid portal. Since the documentation package should include notarized statements, copies of the third-party statements will not be accepted, submissions must be mailed to:

Huntington University of Health Sciences
Attention: Financial Aid Office
118 Legacy View Way, Knoxville, TN 37918

5. Once a complete documentation package has been received by the University, the Director of Financial Aid will review all documentation and make a determination. The decision is final and not subject to appeal. Students will be notified in writing of the decision and will include the date of the decision and the signature of the Director of Financial Aid.

2021-2022 Dependency Override Request Form