Special Circumstances

At San Francisco State University, we take the time to personally consider each individual family's financial circumstances. We make every effort to be as accommodating as possible when determining your financial circumstances due to extenuating circumstances beyond your control. 

Income Petition Requests

An Income Petition Request (Also known in our office as: Special Circumstances Petition) is a financial aid appeal students and their families may take to communicate with our office about financial or household changes that could not be reflected or explained on the FAFSA

Before beginning this process, please review the financial situations accepted for this petition as listed down below. Once all the correct documentation is collected, students must submit their income petitions through our DocuSign portal.

NOTE: This petition is for the 2023-2024 school year (Fall 2023, Spring 2024, & Summer 2024) here at SF State.

  • Loss or reduction of income, including but not limited to loss of employment, reduction of pay, death of a parent or spouse, and reduction/loss of child support
  • Divorce or separation
  • One time only income distributions
  • High out of pocket medical and/or dental expenses
  • K-12 private school tuition, or tax liens
  • Costs associated with a natural disaster
  • Changes to assets or inability to liquidate assets;
  • Loss of overtime or bonus
  • Bankruptcy, foreclosures or collection costs associated with outstanding debt
  • Consumer debt (credit cards, car payments, loans, etc.)
  • Lottery or gambling winnings or losses
  • One-time income used for non-life essential items (e.g., family vacation)
  • Parents (step-parents or biological parents) who do not wish to provide support
  • Marital separation where the parents are still living together

IMPORTANT REMINDER: Only Undergraduate students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) greater than 0 can be considered. Unfortunately, Graduate students and AB 540 Dream students CANNOT submit a petition due to the limited financial aid options available to them.

Unusual Circumstances Appeal

A student's dependency status is determined by the U.S. Department Of Education (DOE). According to DOE, students aged 23 years old or younger are automatically considered as a “Dependent" for financial aid purposes. Students working or living apart from their Parent(s) does NOT constitute “Independent” status - Regardless whether their Parent(s) support them financially or not.

However, students may submit an appeal to override their dependency status and be considered an independent based on Unusual Circumstances (Formerly known as "Dependency Override"). Before beginning this process, please review the allowed criteria listed down below. Once all the correct documentation is collected, students must submit their appeal through our DocuSign portal.

NOTE: This appeal is for the 2024-2025 school year (Fall 2024, Spring 2025, & Summer 2025) here at SF State.

Students must clearly demonstrate an adverse family situation in order to be considered independent for financial aid purposes:

  • Human trafficking
  • Legal refugee or asylum status
  • Severe parental abandonment or estrangement
  • Student or parental incarceration
  • Abusive home environment (physical or emotional abuse).
  • Student is homeless or at risk of homelessness.
  • Student is an unaccompanied youth.

Unusual circumstances do NOT include:

  • Parent(s) unwilling to provide information in the student's FAFSA/CADAA
  • Parent(s) refusal to contribute to a the student's education costs
  • Parent(s) do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Student does not live with parent(s)
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency

IMPORTANT REMINDER: This is NOT a guaranteed process.  A designated Financial Aid Counselor will be assigned to your appeal and make the determination whether the override request can be approved.