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Appeals and Special/Unusual Circumstances

SAP Appeals, Unusual Enrollment History Appeals, Unusual Circumstance Review and Special Circumstance Review 


SAP Appeals 

A student failing to meet the minimum standards to remain eligible for financial aid, who has extenuating circumstances or who has a reasonable basis for special consideration may appeal their suspension. You must file an appeal if you are failing the minimum GPA and/or Pace progress standards or you have exceeded the maximum timeframe allowed at a community college.  Please visit Maintaining Financial Aid for complete explanations. 

Students currently enrolled may not file appeals for future semesters until all grades are rolled into history and current SAP status is determined.  Students can view their Financial Aid SAP status on their OneACCS student portal at any time. 

Students receiving aid on an approved appeal, must earn a 2.0 semester GPA and complete 100% of their classes every semester while on appeal to remain eligible. There is a limit to the number of appeals a student may request. Incomplete appeals will not be processed, students will be notified via theOneACCS student portal that their appeal is incomplete. Appeals are processed as timely as possible, but may take a week to ten days during peak seasons. Students are notified via their student portal of all appeal decisions. 

If an appeal is denied by the Financial Aid Appeals Committee, the student may file a final appeal by submitting additional information to the Director of Financial Aid. SAP appeal decisions are final and may not be appealed beyond the Financial Aid Office. 

Appeal Process:– If a student wishes to request consideration for reinstatement of federal financial aid due to either a maximum time situation or an extraordinary circumstance (examples: the death of a parent, spouse or family member, documented medical issues, documented injury (Note: work is not considered extraordinary), the student must do the following:

  • Must have a current FAFSA on file.
  • Complete the Financial Aid Appeal form and follow the instructions on the form. 
  • Students must indicate if the appeal is due to a low GPA and/or completion rate or due to exceeding the maximum allowable time-frame for degree completion. 
  • Appeals must include the student’s written statement as to the extenuating circumstances causing the student to file an appeal and what has changed to prevent future need for an appeal and a plan for success. 
  • Appeals must include third party professional documentation of the extenuating circumstances causing the request for an appeal.  Extenuating circumstances are those things that are out of the control of the student. Examples of extenuating circumstances include illness, hospitalization, major accidents, death of immediate family member, etc. Extenuating circumstances must be documented and submitted. 
  • Maximum time-frame appeals must include a detailed academic plan signed by the student and the academic advisor, indicating courses needed to graduate. The degree plan should include graduation date (term). 

Unusual Enrollment History Appeal

Students who enroll at multiple institutions of higher learning, receive federal aid may be flagged for unusual enrollment history. Those students may need to file an appeal to explain the legitimate reasons for enrolling at multiple schools and receiving federal aid.  If a student is flagged for unusual enrollment and has recently attended Coastal Alabama and earned credit, they may not have to file an appeal.  Students needed to file an Unusual Enrollment History appeal will be notified via financial aid requirements in the OneACCS student portal. Failure to earn credit while receiving financial aid at previous institutions will result in an appeal being denied until the student attends and earns credit. 

Professional Judgements

When there are unusual situations or circumstances that impact your federal student aid eligibility, a financial aid administrator may perform a professional judgement. This is done on a case-by-case basis with adequate documentation to adjust the data elements on the FAFSA that impact your eligibility to gain a more accurate assessment of your family’s ability to contribute to the cost of education. The Department of Education will not override a school’s professional judgement decisions. 

Professional Judgements typically fall into the categories below.  Students must request the professional judgement and submit the initial request along with documentation. 

Unusual Circumstance Status Review is an appeal to have a student’s status as a dependent student reviewed. This is reserved for students with extenuating circumstances preventing them from providing parental information on the FAFSA. Extenuating circumstances can be any number of things, but typically involve the death and/or incarceration of one or both parents, neglect, abandonment, abusive environment, victim of human trafficking, refugees, etc. 

To request an Unusual Circumstance Status Review, please complete the Dependeny Status Review Form and submit any required documentation. Students will be required to explain their situation in detail in writing. 

Students who are unable to provide a parent signature on the FAFSA will automatically be requested to complete an Unusual Circumstance Status Review.

Dependency overrides cannot be considered solely because a parent does not want to provide information for the FAFSA or because a student is self-sufficient and under the age of 24. If you have questions, please contact the Financial Aid Office. 


Special Circumstance/Loss of Income/Unemployment Appeal/Review 

Since the FAFSA uses income from a prior/prior year, current household income may have significantly changed and no longer reflect a family’s ability to contribute to college costs. Students who are faced with this situation are encouraged to complete a Special Circumstance Review. 

Students who wish to have a Special Circumstance Review, need to complete the Special Circumstance Review form, and submit any required information. Students will be required to explain their situation in detail in writing.

The following is a list of circumstances that may be used to warrant a Special Circumstance Review, but this list is not all inclusive. 

  • Unemployment or reduced employment of the student, spouse, or parent
  • Loss or reduction of an untaxed income or benefit
  • Disability of a student, a spouse, or a parent
  • Lump sum settlement received in the base year.
  • Excessive medical/dental expenses paid in the current year.
  • Divorce or separation of a dependent student’s parent or death of independent student's spouse
  • Dependent child-care costs paid in the current year. 
  • Disability expense allowance
  • Explain your situation in detail, upload supporting documentation, and submit.