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Our approach to aid: Financial aid appeals

If you or your family have circumstances that weren’t accounted for on your financial aid forms, we encourage you to reach out to your financial aid counselor to see if a revision to your financial aid eligibility is possible.

When reviewing your eligibility, the Financial Aid Appeal Committee may use their professional judgment to take into account any special and/or unusual circumstances. MIT is required to follow the U.S. Department of Education’s regulations when using professional judgment. MIT also has its own internal policies regarding professional judgment when determining institutional aid eligibility.

Appeal process

If you decide you need to appeal your financial aid award, we ask that you reach out to your financial aid counselor first. However, please note that appeals cannot be considered for events that have not yet happened, such as an expected job loss or future medical expenses. Appeals based on a change in income cannot be considered until at least three months after the change occurred, depending on circumstances.

Once received, the financial aid appeal committee will review your appeal, along with supporting documentation, and provide a decision via email within approximately two weeks. If we need to reach out to you for more information about your specific situation, it may take additional time to review your appeal.

Applying for aid each year

All financial aid applicants are expected to provide parental financial information annually. If a student starts at MIT as a dependent student but then marries and/or meets the federal criteria for independence while enrolled at MIT, they will still be considered a dependent student at MIT and will be required to provide parent financial information each year on the CSS Profile. A student who declares themselves independent of their parents or a student whose parents will not assume financial responsibility for their education, will not receive additional financial aid from MIT to replace the parent contribution.

Independent vs. dependent status

There may be situations where you are considered independent for federal aid but not for MIT financial aid. This means you may not have to submit parent information on the FAFSA but will still need to provide parent information, including income and assets, on the CSS Profile. Examples may include age or marital status of the student, emancipation status, and/or status as unaccompanied or self-supporting. Additional information on dependency override requests can be found below.

Special circumstances

Special circumstances refer to financial situations that may allow for an adjustment to an element on your FAFSA and/or CSS Profile. This might be a loss or change in income, a change in the number of people in your household, or extraordinary medical expenses not covered by insurance. Circumstances that cannot be considered include, but are not limited to, high consumer debt and asset value changes.

Required documentation: Please note that the following is not an exhaustive list of documentation. We will work with you individually to determine what other documentation may be needed. Documentation should not be sent to us via email and should be uploaded via IDOC.

Loss of income: You should reach out to your financial aid counselor first so they can let you know what we will need for your specific situation. This will most likely include your family’s most recent tax returns, W2/1099 statements, and all schedules and/or Estimated Income Statement.

Please note: We cannot consider income changes for a year that will end after the academic year for which you are receiving financial aid.

Change in number of students attending college in your household or change in number of people in your household: Please complete the household verification worksheet which is available on IDOC.

Medical expenses: You will need to collect documentation of out-of-pocket medical expenses paid by your family after insurance was applied.

Currency appeals

MIT adheres to the currency rate set by the College Board’s CSS Profile. If your country’s currency experienced recent devaluation of 20% or more, you may request a one-time currency adjustment after June 15 and prior to the upcoming academic year. Adjustments will be based on the currency rate set on June 15 of the upcoming academic year.

Required documentation: None, please contact us after June 15, but before the start of the academic year.

Unusual circumstances and dependency override

Unusual circumstances refers to conditions that may allow for an adjustment to your dependency status based on a unique situation, e.g. human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parent abandonment, or incarceration. This is commonly known as a dependency override. Dependency overrides are reviewed on the basis of persistent, ongoing, and irreconcilable family dysfunction such as abuse or parental abandonment.

To begin this process, you first need to contact your financial aid counselor. They will reach out to you directly to follow up about your situation. When you speak with them, they will walk you through next steps. The documentation required is outlined below.

  1. Dependency Override Appeal Form: This is a formal request to be considered independent from your parent(s) or guardian(s) due to unusual and extraordinary circumstances . Your financial aid counselor will share this form with you.
  2. Third-party support certification: You will need to have this filled out by a professional who can attest to your current situation, such as a teacher, school counselor, health care professional, social worker, lawyer, clergy member, or government agency. If you have questions about who might be an appropriate person to fill out this document, you should discuss this with your financial aid counselor. A letter of support and an explanation of their knowledge of your situation should accompany the form. This documentation will be shared with your financial aid counselor.
  3. Third-party documentation: You may also be asked to include any other third-party documentation about your situation, such as a police or Child Protective Services report, letter from a health care professional who has a long-term relationship with you, court documents, or a restraining order.

Once all required materials have been submitted, your dependency override request will be reviewed by MIT, through the process outlined below.

Provisional independent status on the FAFSA

If you indicate that you have an unusual circumstance when you fill out your FAFSA, but do not have all the required documentation, you will be granted provisional independent status. You will be able to complete the FAFSA as an independent student and will receive an estimated Student Aid Index and Federal Pell Grant. However, this does not guarantee that you will be granted independent status.

Your financial aid counselor will reach out to you directly to make sure you complete the required documentation. Once complete, your dependency override request will be reviewed by MIT, through the process outlined below.

Dependency override review process

Dependency override requests are reviewed by a separate team of MIT professionals which includes SFS, Student Support and Wellbeing, and Student Mental Health & Support Services. Dependency overrides are only approved in extraordinary situations such as parent incarceration, parental abuse or abandonment.

Conditions that do not qualify for a dependency override include, but are not limited to: a parent’s refusal to contribute financially, parental unwillingness to complete required forms, not claiming a student as a dependent on parent tax returns, student emancipation as an adult, reluctance to request income/asset information from parents or reluctance to communicate with parents, or a student’s total financial or personal self-sufficiency.

There are situations where a student may qualify as independent for federal student aid, but not for institutional aid. Those include, but are not limited to: age, marital status, emancipation, status as a parent, student who is self-supporting and/or unaccompanied by parent.

It may take up to one month from the time you submit all dependency override materials until a decision is made. We will notify you once your decision is available. If you have questions during the process, please reach out to your financial aid counselor. Decisions made by the Dependency Override Committee cannot be appealed.