The Office of Financial Aid has the ability to review you and your family’s unusual circumstances when determining how much financial aid you may be eligible for. There are two different appeal processes: Professional Judgment and Dependency Override. 

Professional Judgment

2022-23 Loss of Income & Medical Appeals
If your financial situation recently changed due to a loss of income or high medical expenses, you may now submit a 2022-23 Professional Judgment Appeal. Instructions on how to appeal and who may be eligible are below. 

If you or your family experienced a recent hardship that is not reflected on your FAFSA, such as loss of income or unusually high medical expenses, you may complete an income recalculation to account for the change in your family's financial situation. The income calculation will determine your eligibility to appeal and be reevaluated for financial aid. Qualifying for grants based on an appeal is rare and highly unlikely. If your appeal is approved, aid is typically provided in the form of additional loan eligibility.

The deadline to complete an appeal is three weeks before the end of the term for which you are requesting the reevaluation. We cannot negotiate financial aid offers or match another school’s offer.

Circumstances we typically consider:

  • Loss of employment
  • Substantial change in income
  • Medical expenses not covered by insurance
  • Separation or divorce
  • Death of a parent or spouse
  • Loss of child support or alimony
  • House fire or other natural disaster affecting the home in which you live

Circumstances we do not consider:

  • Different university offering more aid
  • Reduced 401K values
  • Reduced investment values
  • Credit card debt or car payments
  • Parent's inability or unwillingness to borrow Parent PLUS loans
  • If student already has Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of 0

How much financial aid will I receive?

It depends. The following are examples of unusual circumstances which illustrate the likelihood of a reevaluation of financial aid eligibility. Please note that each family's situation is unique and we take many factors into account.  

Please be aware that these income scenarios do not reflect assets or investments, which could change your eligibility.

Household Income: $30,000

  • Colorado resident
  • Parent job loss, new income $20,000 ($10,000 loss)

While eligible to appeal, the student is already receiving the maximum amount of financial aid available. An appeal would not result in additional financial aid.

Household Income: $250,000

  • Nonresident
  • Parent job loss, new income $150,000 ($100,000 loss)

While eligible to appeal, aid would be limited to loans, possibly switched from unsubsidized to subsidized. Revised income is too high for grant eligibility.

Household Income: $115,000

  • Colorado resident
  • Medical expenses of $25,000 not covered by insurance

Student would be encouraged to submit an appeal as their revised income calculation would likely result in additional grant eligibility.

Am I eligible for grants?

Grants are typically given to low-income students and eligibility is based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Your EFC is an index number created by the FAFSA to determine your family's ability to pay for college. It is not the amount of money your family will need to pay, nor is it the amount of federal student aid you will receive.

  • It's unlikely you will be eligible for a grant if your EFC is more than 12,000 (residents) or more than 5,712 (nonresidents).
  • To meet your cost of attendance, you may consider loan options.


How to Appeal

To estimate how a change in your family income might impact your financial aid eligibility, use our income calculator to simulate a recalculation of your financial need using more recent income information. The calculator will allow you to see how the change or decline could potentially impact eligibility for financial aid. Only if the income calculator results project a change in financial aid eligibility will you be prompted to complete the Professional Judgment Appeal form.

Step-by-step instructions:

  1. Log in to Buff Portal and navigate to the Financial Aid Card
    • At the bottom of the card, click More Items
    • Select Income/Medical Appeal
    • Select the academic year for which you'd like to submit an appeal
    • Follow the instructions carefully. The calculator will immediately determine your eligibility to appeal. If eligible, you will be required to provide supporting documentation.
  2. A counselor will review your appeal and determine if an adjustment is possible, which may take about 4-6 weeks.
  3. You will receive email notification of your appeal decision.