Cif has this definition
"A Hardship is defined as an unforeseeable, unavoidable and uncorrectable act, condition or event that causes the imposition of a severe and non-athletic burden upon the student or his/her family. Sections may only waive the transfer limitation if the conditions for hardship are met, and there is sufficient documentation to support the hardship claim;. Sections may not waive the applicable rule if the conditions of hardship are not met."
Now lets consider this, there are no real hard and fast guidelines as to what qualifies for a hardship transfer. The rule is purposely written to not have strict rules and allow for the interpretation of the rules committee, because in the end, there are so many different ways a family can experience hardship, making strict rules will invariably leave some people out in the cold.
Lets however look at some of the more common hardship waivers that have been granted.
1. Financial. Say a family is sending their son or daughter to private school and they can no longer afford to send them there. I have heard that people have been granted this waivers under the following conditions. Loss of job (fired, laid off, job injury). However in order to qualify there needs to be evidence presented to CIF that the family attempted to address the problem with the private school in terms of aid. In no way do increasing tuition costs count as those are seen as foreseeable.
2. Divorce, now this sometimes can be granted a hardship waiver, but usually only if the legal guardian that is newly appointed is different than the guardian that they first established residency with. This of course requires court documentation.
3. Student medical. very rarely have I ever heard that a student transfered schools because of medical issues and made eligible for sports. Basically you would need a Doctor to provide some type of medical record that would warrant such a move to another school. It will be denied quickly f discovered that diagnosis was for athletic purposes.
4. Unsafe environment. I have heard of some transfers to new schools by students who have been a victim of violence on school grounds. Something that they did not initiate. There needs to be some type of documentation that the school is more dangerous for him than for others. Usually gang threats are involved.
5. Family illness, I have heard of students moving to be with another family member to help provide care due to their illness. This, like everything else, would require documentation, including medical records of that family member.
Social school issues, transportation issues, academic issues, disciplinary issues do not count under a hardship waiver.
I do want to address the academic issue though. This is something new that could happen, or could be grounds for a transfer. First, the reason academic issues don't qualify is because of open enrollment. CIF will state you should have done a better job of researching schools when you were first selecting. However I do believe there is a way to be granted this type of transfer. Student attends school A which is providing a good academic program and family is satisfied for the opportunities provided. School A falls on hard financial times, for instance like our current public schools are experiencing, Programs that may be unique to that school are cancelled. For instance, say Band, Animation, Computer science, and the biggest on AP courses. Student A might be granted a transfer to a new school either in district or outside of the district to another school that has the current programs that were offered to a student. One issue, this won't allow you to transfer to the school of your choosing, if the school district offered the same missing programs at another school, the district itself can waive the restrictions and let you play. If you wanted to attend another school outside the district that had those programs and the school district had those programs at another school, I highly doubt they would grant a waiver.
Now I am sure that there are more examples of what could be considered hardship, death in the family, under certain circumstance might be grounds for a hardship as well. I will say it is a timely and difficult process to get a hardship waiver from CIF, it isn't impossible, but difficult. Many get denied, sometimes just because they didn't have enough documentation, not because the actual hardship wasn't really a hardship. The burden of proof lies with the family.
I hope this gave everyone a better idea of how hardship waivers work.