Special Circumstances

We understand that there may be situations when a student's true and current financial situation is not fully reflected by the questions on the FAFSA. These students may be considered on a case-by-case basis for a special circumstances review called "Professional Judgement" under the guidance of the Department of Education. Financial Aid Services may use Professional Judgment flexibility to re-evaluate your situation, if for example, your family has experienced a change in income due to unusual special circumstances, or you are a student and are unable to provide your parents' information on the FAFSA. 

There a several situations in which a student and/or parents may need to be considered for Professional Judgement, the following are the most common requests:

If you indicated that you had special circumstances in error, please correct your FAFSA and resubmit it including your parent information. Approximately 5 business days after making the correction, please check the financial aid checklist on the FIT portal to see if any further action is required.

Dependency Override

You indicated on the FAFSA that you are unable to include your parents' income information due to special circumstances. The Federal government gives each school's financial aid administrators the ability to treat a student as independent and not require parent information in special circumstances. This process is called a Dependency Override.

Special circumstances that can lead to a Dependency Override include but are not limited to:

  • Cases of parental abuse, abandonment or estrangement from parents
  • Being homeless or at risk of being homeless
  • Student or parent incarceration
  • Being a victim of human trafficking
  • Being legally granted refugee or asylum status

Government regulations specifically prohibit financial aid offices from granting a Dependency Override to a student solely because:

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education
  • Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency and is under the age of 24

How to Apply for a Dependency Override

To apply for a Dependency Override you must submit a letter explaining your special circumstances and supporting documentation. 

Your letter may require you to share personal information but it is kept confidential. If you think it will be helpful, you can contact an FIT Financial Aid Counselor at [email protected] to discuss your circumstances before attempting to explain in writing. We recommend writing your letter in a way that explains the history of your situation with your parents and it must include both biological parents. There is no required length to your letter but it is best to make the history and timeline of your circumstances as clear as possible. 

Along with your letter, supporting documentation must be provided. Supporting documentation can be:

  • Government, court and/or law enforcement documents
  • Third party letters from counselors, therapists, social workers, teachers, and/or clergy who are familiar with your circumstances
  • Letters from family members, neighbors and/or friends who are familiar with your circumstances

Please note that letters from family members, neighbors and/or friends are not considered as strong as government, court and/or law enforcement documents or third party letters. The supporting documentation should confirm what is stated in your letter. 

To submit your letter and documentation please use the Financial Aid Document Uploader on the FIT portal at MyFIT.fitnyc.edu. If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid Services department by email at [email protected] or call us at (212) 217-3560.

The decision of Financial Aid Services administrators regarding Dependency Overrides is final and cannot be appealed to the Department of Education.

Income Adjustment

If your family has experienced a change in income due to unusual special circumstances, Financial Aid Services may use Professional Judgment flexibility to re-evaluate your situation.

Documented "Special Circumstances" that negatively affect you or your family’s financial situation could be eligible for a financial aid adjustment of your financial aid award(s). Some applicable special circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  • Loss of job or permanent/indefinite reduction of work hours
  • Separation or divorce
  • Personal bankruptcy that occurs during the current financial aid year
  • Death of a member of your immediate family
  • Reduction/loss of child support
  • Medical expenses not covered by insurance and exceed 11% of the AGI (Schedule A of tax return)
  • Termination of untaxed income, such as social security benefit (Letter from agency that provided the benefit)
  • Your parents took money out of their pension/retirement plan as a one-time payment to help cover expenses
  • Other documented special circumstances outside of the student’s control

Some circumstances that are not applicable include:

  • Your FAFSA already demonstrates the highest aid possible
  • Standard living expenses (utilities, car payments, etc.)
  • Mortgage payments
  • Bankruptcy, foreclosures, or collection costs associated with outstanding debts
  • Consumer debt (credit cards, car payments, loans, etc.)
  • Payments on back taxes owed to the IRS
  • Filing for bankruptcy
  • Vacation expenses

If you would like to apply for a Professional Judgment (PJ) appeal, please click on one of the documents below and download the form. Please remember to submit the appropriate documentation as stated on the Professional Judgement (Estimated Income) form to support your special circumstance. You may  submit your completed form, along with all the required documentation to the Financial Aid Document Uploader on the FIT portal at MyFIT.fitnyc.edu or  you may drop off the materials to the Financial Aid Services, Dubinsky Student Center, Room A212A.

Please note:  If the Student Aid Index (SAI) on the student’s FAFSA results in the maximum eligibility for financial aid, please do not complete this form. However, we encourage students to pursue an income adjustment with Financial Aid Services as we may be able to increase a student's budget (with proper documentation) for other cost of attendance components, provide information about SNAP benefits, food pantry services, and reduced internet costs.

Budget Increase

Requesting an increase in your budget increases your loan eligibility for PLUS, Alternative Loans, and Federal Work-Study eligibility.

Submit an explanation of your budget increase and attach documentation to confirm your additional educational costs to Financial Aid at the Financial Aid Document Uploader on the FIT portal at MyFIT.fitnyc.edu. All emails to Financial Aid Services should be from your FIT email to [email protected].

Examples of budget increases considered:

  • Additional required educational expenses related to your academic program.
  • Unusual transportation expenses over and above what is already covered in your budget.
  • Expenses due to a disability or unexpected medical cost.
  • Childcare expenses while attending college.
  • Other reasonable, educationally-related expenses.


A student must be enrolled at the time the appeal request is submitted.  Although Federal Financial Aid Professional Judgment appeal decisions are at the discretion of the campus and are based on guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education and are completed on a case-by-case basis with all decisions considered final, FIT will make every effort to assist students in need. Submission of a request for re-evaluation does not guarantee an adjustment to a student's award.  

Awaiting the Decision

We ask that you please be patient while awaiting the outcome of your appeal as it is our goal to conduct a thorough review of each appeal that is submitted for consideration. Once a decision has been made, you will be notified via your FIT email.

For questions, please email [email protected]