Financial Aid & Scholarship Office

Changes in Circumstances


Students and their families may face situations where the original application information does not accurately reflect their current circumstances and ability to pay for college. When students apply for financial aid, the financial data elements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or California Dream Act Application (CADAA) reflect the student and parent income from two years prior. 

The FAFSA or CADAA is considered to be a "snapshot" of the family's financial situation as of the date it is submitted. The expected family contribution (EFC) is calculated according to a federal formula that uses the household and financial information to determine a student/and or family's financial strength. The EFC represents the portion of a student's and their family's financial resources that can reasonably be expected to pay for college.

When Financial Circumstances Change

Even if you feel the FAFSA or CADAA will not reflect changed financial circumstances in the current year, complete the FAFSA or CADAA as best you can, supplying the information requested, and submitting it to Federal Student Aid. CSU, Chico has a formal institutional appeal process to handle unusual circumstances, hardship expenses, or emergency needs. Students may submit an exceptional circumstances appeal form to determine if their unusual circumstances bear consideration in reevaluating financial aid eligibility.

Exceptional Circumstances Appeals are available for the following situations:

  • Family Contribution:
    • Income Reduction
    • Non-reimbursed medical, dental, and/or vision expenses
    • Support of extended family members
  • Childcare expenses or elementary and/or secondary school tuition
  • Substantial non-reimbursed travel/commuting expenses
  • Student marital status change

For additional information, view Appeals.

Dependency Status: Dependent or Independent?

Student dependency status is determined by the U.S. Department of Education based on responses you entered on your FAFSA. To appeal your dependency status, you must clearly demonstrate an adverse family situation in order for us to consider you independent for financial aid purposes. This is called a dependency override, and is considered on a case-by-case basis.

For additional information, view Dependency Status: Independent or Dependent* and also click Appeals.

Household Size and Number in College

Please contact our office if you think changes in your household size or number of family members attending college may affect your aid eligibility.