FINANCIAL AID

  • Special Groups

Special and Unusual Circumstances

Professional Judgment is the discretion granted to financial aid administrators by law to adjust a student's financial aid application due to special and unusual circumstances. All professional judgment decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and must be fully documented. In general, each professional judgment decision is made on its own. Professional judgment decisions are the sole discretion of a financial aid administrator and cannot be appealed to the university or the Department of Education. 

INCOME APPEAL

Depending on the reason you are submitting an Income Appeal, the suggested documentation will vary. In most cases, we will ask for an estimate of all sources of income for the entire calendar year (ex. January 1, 2024-December 31, 2024), a signed statement explaining your special circumstance AND a signed copy of our Income Appeal form. If you are not able to provide the required documents, please contact the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department at 1-818-677-4085 or by email financial.aid@csun.edu to ask for instructions or to speak with a financial aid counselor (include your CSUN ID if sending an email). 

These are the conditions that are considered for an Income Appeal:

  • Unemployment or change in employment
  • Divorce/separation
  • Death of student’s parent or spouse
  • One-time income (e.g., inheritance, moving expense allowance, back-year Social Security payments, IRA or pension distribution, or gambling winnings). You will have to identify the source of income, the amount, and how funds were spent or invested. See FAQs below for details

Do not submit an appeal if the following applies to you. Submitting an appeal will NOT change your aid eligibility:

  • Your 2024-2025 FAFSA Student Aid Index (SAI) falls between -1500 to 0
  • You are a 2nd BA degree student who has been offered $5,500 in a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan
  • You are a 2nd Credential student, or are enrolled in an Intern Credential program and were offered $5,500 in a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan

Timeframes to file an appeal:

  • Your appeal must be submitted and processed prior to the last day of your enrollment.
  • Income Appeals may take up to 6 weeks to process.

The 2024-2025 Income Appeal form will open in August 2024, please check back to access the form.

Click on this link to review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

COST OF ATTENDANCE APPEALS

A Cost of Attendance Appeal allows a student to demonstrate they have significantly higher educationally-related expenses than on the standard Cost of Attendance. All expenses must be incurred during the given academic year (for example, for the 2024-2025 year, all expenses would need to have occurred between July 2024 and May 2025). Documentation will vary depending on the situation. In most cases, approval for increase to Cost of Attendance will result in possible increased loan eligibility only.

Please review the FAQs below before you complete the form. The 2024-2025 Cost of Attendance Appeal form will open in August 2024, please check back to access the form.

Timeframes to file an appeal:

  • Your appeal must be submitted and processed prior to the last day of your enrollment.
  • Income Appeals may take up to 6 weeks to process.

Click on this link to review the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCE APPEAL REQUEST

If you are considered a dependent student, you must provide parental information on your financial aid application. In unusual circumstances, a financial aid administrator may override your dependency status for the purpose of applying for financial aid if you are unable to obtain parental information. 

The following circumstances, do not qualify as unusual circumstances to be considered an independent student: 

  • 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 financial self-sufficiency
  • Student does not live with parents 

Upload Instructions: You can submit your Unusual Circumstance Appeal through your CSUN Portal. Once you are logged in, click on the My Finances menu and select Financial Aid & Scholarships. Scroll down to Financial Aid Essentials and choose Financial Aid Forms. Select Financial Aid Document Upload and choose the correct aid year. Click on the "Item from my To Do List" box and upload your document. For additional information, visit the How To Submit Documents webpage.  

To appeal your dependency status, you must provide both of the items listed below: 

1. A typed, detailed letter addressing each of the following items:

a. The location of each biological parent. If whereabouts are unknown, please indicate so.
b. The last time you had contact with each parent and the nature of the contact.
c. The unusual circumstances that caused the break in the relationship between you and your parents.
d. Explanation of how you have been self-supporting.
e. Sign and date your statement.

2. A letter from a third party that is familiar with your situation and can support your appeal. Examples of a third party: counselor, teacher, social worker, close family member, etc.

THIRD-PARTY LETTER Instructions 

Students who are considered dependent for financial aid purposes must provide parental information on their financial aid application. In unusual circumstances, a financial aid administrator may override the student’s dependency status if the student is unable to obtain parent information. For the dependency status appeal process requires documentation of unusual circumstances and must include a letter from a third party that is familiar with the student’s situation. 

You have been identified by the student as an individual who is familiar with their circumstance. To support the student’s appeal, please provide the following: 

1. Statement that includes the information below,

a. Your relationship to the student
b. Your knowledge of the student’s unusual circumstance
c. Any knowledge of the relationship between the student and each parent
d. Your signature, professional title, contact information, and the date

Please note: Good grades and other accomplishments are not relevant to this process. This letter is to explain what you know of the relationship between the student and the parents, and the unusual circumstances that prohibit the student from filing a financial aid application with a parent. 

UNACCOMPANIED HOMELESS YOUTH CONSIDERATION

On your financial aid application, you indicated you became unaccompanied and either homeless or at risk of being homeless on or after July 1, 2023. In order to confirm this determination, the Financial Aid & Scholarship Department must collect additional documentation. 

If you have been determined to be an unaccompanied youth who is homeless or an unaccompanied youth providing your own living expenses who is at risk of being homeless, please provide the determination documentation from one of the agencies below: 

  • McKinney-Vento school district liaison determination letter
  • Director of a shelter or transitional living program funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or designee
  • Director of a shelter or transitional living program funded by the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) or designee
  • A financial aid administrator at another institution who documented this circumstance during the same or prior award year 

If you are not able to provide documentation from the agencies listed above, please provide a personal statement detailing the information below, 

  • Explain your current living situation. How long have you been unaccompanied and living on your own? Where do you currently reside (Emergency Shelter, Hotel or Motel paid by Charitable Organization, Safe Haven Facility, sheltered by relatives other than your parents, transitional housing, etc.)?
  • How are you financially supporting yourself? 

We will review the documentation and determine your status based on the information provided. An email confirmation will be sent to you with the results of our review.   

If you have any questions, you may contact the Financial Aid and Scholarship Department.