Financial Aid Handbook
The Financial Aid Handbook is designed to answer many of the questions students and their families ask about Dickinson College's financial aid program. Additional information specifically designed for prospective students is available from the Admissions Office. We encourage you to use these guides as a reference throughout your time at Dickinson College.
Students have the right to request reevaluation of their eligibility for federal student aid due to special and/or unusual circumstances, known as professional judgement.
If your family experiences changes in their financial circumstances, let us know.
We recognize that families occasionally experience changes in income and/or resources during the application process and/or the academic year. A request for reconsideration should be submitted when a family can document a significant change in financial circumstances, or if they believe there are special circumstances that were not included or considered in their initial aid application. Although the following lists are not exhaustive, we hope you find them helpful.
Examples of Circumstances Considered:
- Recent unemployment of a family member or independent student, or other circumstance
- Non-recurring income or one-time payment that created an unusual increase in income for the base year
- Death of parent or student's spouse
- Loss of untaxed income (social security, pension, etc.)
- Unusual medical or dental bills not covered by insurance, co-insurance or FSA/HSA type cafeteria plans
- Housing change due to homelessness
Examples of Circumstances Not Considered:
- Higher living expenses experienced by the family. (Please note that our need-analysis already includes cost of living adjustment [COLA] based on data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey by Metropolitan Statistical Areas as determined by the US Department of Labor.)
- Purchasing discretionary items such as a car, home appliances, weddings, vacations, second homes
- Reduction in the value of assets
- Credit issues, line of credit changes, etc.
How to Appeal Due to Special Circumstances
Please either contact the Office of Financial Aid via email, 717-245-1308, or your financial aid counselor to request reconsideration. The counselor will collect information on your circumstances and provide you with guidance as to the necessary documents needed to complete review of your change in financial circumstances.
Unusual Circumstances - Dependency Override
Most undergraduate students at Dickinson College are considered dependent students for financial aid purposes. The FAFSA will determine your dependency status based on several questions. If you answer ‘no’ to all the dependency questions on the FAFSA, you are considered a dependent student for financial aid purposes and must provide your parent information on the FAFSA. If there are unusual circumstances where you cannot provide your parent information on the FAFSA, such as: abuse, neglect, abandonment, human trafficking, and/or refugee or asylee status, the Office of Financial Aid may be able to perform a dependency override to make you an independent student for financial aid purposes. This would make you eligible for financial aid without parent information or signature.
We cannot override dependency in cases where:
- Parents refuse to contribute financially to your education
- Unwillingness of parents to provide information
- Student being financially independent
- Parents not claiming a student as a dependent on their income taxes
Requesting a Dependency Override Due to Unusual Circumstances
If you would like the Office of Financial Aid to review your unusual circumstances to see if a dependency override would be appropriate, please either contact the Office of Financial Aid via email, 717-245-1308, or your financial aid counselor to request consideration for the dependency override. The counselor will collect information on your circumstances and provide you with guidance as to the necessary documents needed to complete review of your change in financial circumstances.
Once all documents have been completed and submitted, the Office of Financial Aid will review the documents and determine your dependency status. A review typically takes 3-4 weeks from the date when all necessary documentation has been received. Once processed, the student will be notified of the final determination of their dependency status as well as an initial or revised financial aid offer, if all other requirements to receive a financial aid offer have been satisfied. The request for the review will take no longer than 60 days from the date when all the documents have been received (or from the date the student enrolls, whichever is later).
Beginning with the 2023-24 award year, any student who was approved for a dependency override and made independent for financial aid due to unusual circumstances will continue to be independent for each subsequent award year at Dickinson College unless the student informs us that their circumstances have changed, or we have conflicting information about the student’s independence. Students must still submit their FAFSA each year but should not need to take additional action to be considered an independent student each year.