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Appealing Your Financial Aid Offer

Special Circumstances

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Complete the Appeal form to request a reevaluation of your financial aid eligibility.  If you have some special circumstances that were not reflected on your financial aid application, or if your family's financial situation has changed since you filed your financial aid application, you may submit details of these circumstances and request to have your financial aid eligibility reevaluated.

You may file only one petition for reevaluation. Once a decision has been made on your request, additional petitions for the same request will not be considered.

Allowances Against Income

Occasionally, families may have out-of-pocket costs for medical/dental expenses, home repair expenses, etc. that are not covered by insurance. We are willing to consider these unexpected expenses as an allowance against your parent's total income if they can provide documentation of the expense(s) along with their petition for reconsideration (i.e., receipts, bills, canceled checks, estimates from a service provider).

Financial aid petitions are processed on a first-come, first-served basis. The earliest you can expect to hear about the action(s) taken is, generally, two weeks after submission. The Financial Aid Office will notify you of the decision via email.

Filing a petition does not guarantee your request will be granted. Exceptional circumstances must be documented and must meet federal and/or institutional petition policies. Additional aid can only be awarded if funds are available.

Request to Use Parents' 2023 Income

In some cases, the prior year parental income–2023–will be significantly lower than the prior, prior year income reported on the FAFSA and/or CSS Profile–2022. In order for us to consider using prior year income:

  • your parents will need to complete and sign the Parents' Income Update form; AND
  • submit a signed copy of their 2023 federal income tax return along with their 2023 W-2s.

All documents with personally identifiable information (PII) should be submitted through the Caltech Financial Aid Dropbox: Do NOT submit these documents via email as it is not secure.

Allowable Budget Additions

Allowable budget additions can be used to supplement a student's estimated cost of education in order to increase loan eligibility. In general the total budget additions cannot under any circumstances exceed 60 percent of a student's standard budget and typically result in additional loan eligibility. The allowable expenses are applicable to periods of enrollment only. Complete documentation must be received by the Financial Aid Office before these costs can be added.

  • Transportation: Transportation costs to and from school that exceed the standard transportation allowance. (Note: neither the cost of a vehicle itself nor any major repairs or insurance are applicable.)
  • Health and Wellness Expenses: Out-of-pocket expenses, not covered by insurance, can be added to the budget with adequate documentation.
  • Additional Costs for Students with Disabilities: Students with disabilities can have select additional expenses added to their standard budgets.
  • Computer: Students can include computer and peripheral costs, up to a maximum of $2,500, either in a single request for the maximum amount, or incrementally over their time as undergraduates until reaching the maximum limit. These costs can be covered by outside scholarships or (additional) loan. Students with exceptional need may request grant funding through the Computer Purchase Subsidy Request Form.

Disallowable Budget Items

The following items cannot be allowed in a student budget:

  • legal fees
  • consumer debt (i.e., credit card payments)
  • pet expenses
  • vehicle purchase and vehicle repair
  • student living expenses during a period when you are not enrolled

Unusual Circumstances

Unusual Circumstances refer to the conditions that justify making an adjustment to a student's dependency status based on a unique situation (e.g., human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abuse or abandonment, incarceration), more commonly referred to as a dependency override.

Unusual circumstances do include:

  • Human trafficking, as described in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.);
  • Legally granted refugee or asylum status;
  • Parental abandonment or estrangement; or
  • Student or parental incarceration.

However, none of the conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override.

Unusual circumstances do not include:

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education.
  • Parents will not provide information for the FAFSA or verification.
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

To request an unusual circumstances review provide:

  • A signed statement describing your unusual circumstances
  • Documentation from a third party with knowledge of your unusual circumstances

All documents with personally identifiable information (PII) should be submitted through the Caltech Financial Aid Dropbox: Do NOT submit these documents via email as it is not secure.

Dependency Status

Strict federal rules and Institute policies govern dependency status, and almost all undergraduates are considered dependent for the purposes of awarding financial aid.

Under certain conditions (defined here), undergraduates may be considered independent for the purposes of receiving federal and state aid. However, if parental information is required when you are admitted to Caltech, it will be required throughout your enrollment at Caltech, regardless of changes to your federal dependency status.

If you have extenuating circumstances that you believe might warrant a change to your dependency status, please contact the Financial Aid Office.