Family Contribution Appeal

What is a Family Contribution Appeal?

USA exercises Professional Judgment (PJ) as permitted by the Department of Education for students and parents who have experienced special circumstances and have requested a review of their Expected Family Contribution (EFC).  PJ is used on a case-by-case basis. Special circumstances include but are not limited to:

  • Loss of employment due to involuntary termination of lay off
  • Loss of wages due to an involuntary reduction in work hours 
  • Death of a spouse/ parent
  • Disability
  • Medical, dental or nursing home expenses not covered by insurance

To request a review or re-evaluation due to special circumstances at USA, students must first complete verification if selected. Students will then request a Family Contribution Appeal in the USA Verification Portal.  Along with a Family Contribution Appeal form, students must submit a brief statement describing their special circumstances , and provide supporting documentation.  

Examples of supporting documentation include but are not limited to:

1.      Letter from employer (signed and dated on letterhead)

2.      Copies of 2 most recent pay stubs

3.      Divorce decree

4.      Death certificate

5.      Letter from a physician (signed and dated on letterhead)

6.      Signed Tax returns

7.      Signed statements documenting estimated earnings

8.      Alimony designated in divorce agreements

9.      Unemployment compensation and job training benefits

10.    Actual disability benefits received


Steps to Open a Family Contribution Appeal

1. Log into the Verification Portal using your JagNet credentials;

2. Confirm the 4 key identifiers from the FAFSA (first name, last name, date of birth and social security number);

3. Click the Manage Requests box in the upper right hand corner of the page and select the blue plus sign for Family Contribution Appeal for the appropriate aid year. 

4. Complete the Web Form and upload documentation to support the circumstances.


Family Contribution Appeal FAQs


Students should review their final aid offer for the upcoming year before requesting an appeal. Appeals can be reviewed throughout the academic year, as long as the student is actively enrolled. Appeals resulting from recent job loss and/or reduction in work hours should not be submitted until at least 3 months after the qualifying event. Other extenuating circumstances may warrant an immediate review such as death of a parent or a finalized divorce.
Allow 10 to 14 business days for committee review. If approved, a new aid offer will be available in PAWS within 5 to 7 business days of approval.
Students may become eligible for additional grants or Federal Work Study opportunities. Students may also become eligible for Direct Subsidized Loans, reducing interest accrual while in school. 
No.  Graduate level students are only eligible for Direct Unsubsidized Loans from completing the FAFSA. Other appeal options may be more appropriate (see Cost of Attendance Appeal). Also, students who already have the highest demonstrated need as calculated by the FAFSA will not benefit from submitting a Family Contribution Appeal.