The Office of Financial Aid is dedicated to ensuring that students can access the fullest extent of aid available to them. Our office can review unique circumstances to determine if you are eligible for additional federal, state, or institutional aid. The appeal process may look different depending on your individual situation. Below you will find more information about the Professional Judgment Appeal, Budget Appeal, and Independent Appeal processes.

Types of Appeals

Please note, in order to submit any of the following appeals a students must have a completed FAFSA on file. If you have questions about submitting a FAFSA application, please visit our applying for aid page.

The Office of Financial Aid at Colorado State University recognizes that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) does not always accurately reflect a student or family’s current situation. The Professional Judgment Appeal process allow student’s or their family to submit documentation supporting their current financial situation. This documentation may be used to potentially increase student eligibility for federal, state, and institutional financial aid.

Note: it can take up to 4-6 weeks to process Professional Judgment Appeals.

Circumstances typically considered for appeal:

  • Loss of employment
  • Significant change to income
  • Large medical expenses not covered by insurance
  • Separation or divorce
  • Death of parent or spouse
  • Loss of child support or alimony
  • Natural disaster affecting the home you live in

Circumstances that are not considered for appeal:

  • Reduced value of 401k
  • Reduction in investments
  • Credit card debt or car payments
  • Parent’s inability or unwillingness to borrow the PLUS Loan
  • Another institution offering more aid

Potential impact to aid (Common situations)

 Reduction of Income/Loss of EmploymentSignificant Medical ExpensesNon-Recurring Income
Colorado Resident• For a household with an original income of $100,000 or less, a 15%-25% decrease in household income may result in additional aid
• For a household with an original income of $250,000 or less, a 26%+ decrease in household income may result in additional aid
• Typically, out-of-pocket medical expenses need to exceed $15,000 or more to have a potential impact on eligibility• One-time income of $15,000 or less will likely have no impact
Non-Colorado Resident• For a household with an original income of $100,000 or less, a 20%-30% decrease in household income may result in additional aid
• For a household with an original income of $250,000 or less, a 31%+ decrease in household income may result in additional aid
• Typically, out-of-pocket medical expenses need to exceed $20,000 or more to have a potential impact on eligibility• One-time income of $25,000 or less will likely have no impact

Budget Appeal

The annual cost of attendance is based on averages for students. There are situations in which students benefit from having their cost of attendance reflect their actual expenses as opposed to an estimated amount. These costs could be costs directly billed to the student from CSU, or the costs could be related to other indirect expenses such as rent, dependent care, health insurance, etc.

Note: it can take up to 2-3 weeks to process Budget Appeals.

Examples of Budget Appeals

  • Adjustments for room and meals (on-campus or off-campus)
  • Adjustments for housing (on-campus, with parents, off-campus, etc.)
  • Childcare expenses
  • Laptop purchase
  • Health insurance (CSU provided)

Please reach out to a financial aid counselor if you would like to complete a budget appeal or have a situation not addressed above that you would like to discuss.

Independent Appeal

There are special circumstances in which a student who would typically be considered a dependent student could be determined to be an independent student. You can learn more about dependency for FAFSA purposes on Federal Student Aid’s website. If you are experiencing a special circumstance, the Office of Financial Aid can review your situation to determine if you can be considered an independent student for the current aid year.

Note: independent Appeals can take up to 2-3 weeks to process.

Situations that may warrant an independent appeal:

  • Abandonment by parents
  • Abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety
  • Student is unable to locate parents

Situations that would not warrant an independent appeal:

  • 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

Please reach out to a counselor in the Office of Financial Aid if you would like to chat about your dependency status.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it worth my time to complete a Professional Judgment Appeal?


It is difficult to know the outcome of an appeal, specifically, a Professional Judgment Appeal. There are many factors that go into an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation. Generally, if there is greater than a 20% decrease in income, a Professional Judgment Appeal will be helpful.

You can find more information about the EFC calculation of Federal Student Aid’s website.

How much aid am I eligible for?


Many factors go into calculating a student’s financial aid eligibility. The amount of aid a student might be eligible for can vary based upon several factors such as household size, income, assets, location, etc.

Generally, the lower your FAFSA Expected Family Contribution (EFC), the more aid a student is eligible to receive.

What if I don’t have the necessary documents?


Please reach out to the Office of Financial Aid for guidance on your particular situation. Generally speaking, you can provide a detailed statement explaining the information that would have been received from the proper documentation.

How do I know if my appeal made a difference?


You will receive a notification on RAMweb once your appeal has been reviewed. If your appeal results in additional aid eligibility, you will be able to review your awards on the financial aid awards page of your RAMweb.

What if I’m not sure which type of appeal I need to complete?


Please reach out to a counselor if you have questions about completing an appeal.

In general, you should submit the following type of appeal based on the following circumstances:

  • If you are looking for an increase to loan eligibility to help cover charges, you will want to pursue a Budget Appeal
  • If you are determined to be a dependent student by the FAFSA but your situation does not align with a typical dependent student situation, you will want to pursue an Independent Appeal
  • If household or income information required for FAFSA submission no longer represents your current situation, you will want to pursue a Professional Judgment Appeal.

Want more information?

You can speak with a financial aid counselor if you have any questions about completing an appeal.

If you have questions about an appeal that you’ve already submitted, please email our processing team at ofa_professional_judgment@colostate.edu