If a Student's Parents Refuse To Provide Support, How Does the Student Complete the FAFSA To Borrow a Direct Unsubsidized Loan?

Award Year: 2023-24 KA-36476 Helpfulness Rating 3,846 page views

This guidance is specific to the 2023-24 award year and later.

Under Section 479(A)(a) of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, [20 USC 1087TT] a financial aid administrator may exercise professional judgment (PJ) authority to award only a Direct Unsubsidized Loan to a dependent student if the student’s parents refuse to file the FAFSA or have ended financial support of the student. Note: This represents a change from statutory language that was in effect through June 30, 2022. Previously, this option was available only if the dependent student's parents both refused to file the FAFSA and had ended financial support of the student.

If the dependent student's parents refuse to complete the FAFSA, the student must complete the student portion of the FAFSA only. When FAFSA on the Web (online FAFSA) asks the student to provide parental information, the student should select the “I am unable to provide information about my parent(s)” option. The student will then be provided with an explanation of what is considered a special circumstance. If using FAFSA on the Web, the student should select the option that says she doesn’t have a special circumstance but still cannot provide parent information.

Once this is done, the dependent student will receive a rejected Student Aid Report (SAR), and the school will receive a rejected Institutional Student Information Record (ISIR) without an expected family contribution (EFC) and with a special circumstances flag of "4." Once this ISIR is received, the school may offer and originate the Direct Unsubsidized Loan, provided the student passed the student eligibility database matches and is otherwise eligible for the loan. The student remains a dependent student, so do not add a “dependency override” flag, because doing so would cause Central Processing System (CPS) to treat the student as an independent student.

The parents must then sign a statement indicating that they:

  1. Refuse to fill out the FAFSA on the student's behalf; or
  2. Do not provide any financial support to the student, indicating the date the support ended, and will not provide any financial support to the student in the future.

If the parents refuse to sign and date a statement to this effect, you must get documentation from a third party (the student himself is not sufficient), such as a teacher, counselor, cleric, or court. See guidance under "Dependent students without parent support" in the Application and Verification Guide (AVG) volume of the FSA Handbook.

However, if the student’s parents complete the FAFSA but do not provide any financial support to the student and will not provide any financial support to the student in the future, the student may inform the financial aid office. Financial aid administrators may be more likely to learn this information about those students who have been selected for verification and whose parents, although they completed the FAFSA, refuse to complete the verification process because they have ended financial support of the student. In that event, the parent must sign a statement indicating that they:

  1. Do not provide any financial support to the student, indicating the date the support ended; and
  2. Will not provide any financial support to the student in the future.

If a financial aid administrator exercises PJ authority for a dependent student to offer only Direct Unsubsidized Loan funds because the student’s parents no longer financially support the student and will not support the student in the future, or refuse to complete the FAFSA, eligibility is limited to the applicable base annual unsubsidized loan limit plus $2,000 per academic year in additional unsubsidized loan funds. In other words:

GRADE LEVEL OF DEPENDENT STUDENT

BASE AMOUNT OF UNSUBSIDIZED LOAN

ADDITIONAL AMOUNT OF UNSUBSIDIZED LOAN

TOTAL AMOUNT OF UNSUBSIDIZED LOAN

ONE

$3,500

$2,000

$5,500

TWO

$4,500

$2,000

$6,500

THREE AND ABOVE

$5,500

$2,000

$7,500

See Dear Colleague Letter GEN-08-12 for more information.

Dependency Override Alternative: As an alternative to the above, the financial aid administrator could also choose to use PJ to perform a dependency override to make the student independent if the aid administrator feels the student's circumstances are unusual and warrant such consideration. It would be a good practice for the school to make these students aware of the dependency override alternative so they can explain the full nature of the breakdown in the relationship with the parents that might make it unreasonable to expect parental support--a breakdown that might very well warrant a dependency override.

Note: Effective with the 2023-24 award year, Section 479A of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, [20 USC 1087TT] prohibits institutions from having a policy that denies all PJ requests, as well as develop a PJ policy with the ability to approve and disapprove individual student circumstances. Additionally, schools must make their PJ policy publicly available to inform students of their ability to request such adjustments per 20 USC 1087TT(a)(5).

2024-25 Note: Effective with the 2024-25 award year, the expected family contribution (EFC) becomes the student aid index (SAI), the Central Processing System (CPS) becomes the FAFSA Processing System (FPS) and the Student Aid Report (SAR) becomes the FAFSA Submission Summary (FSS).

 

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