The FAFSA is designed to determine dependency for financial aid purposes. Typically, it’s not difficult to discern a student’s status as dependent or independent. However, there may be a situation involving special circumstances that won’t necessarily be reflected on the FAFSA.

Here’s an example:
Typically, a traditionally-aged student needs to have one of their parents sign a FAFSA. But what if the student’s grandparents have raised him because his parents are deceased? It may not be reasonable to expect the grandparents to be responsible for the cost of the student’s education. In this case, the financial aid administrator can use professional judgment to classify the student as independent.  The administrator was able to "override" the dependency status.