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Special Circumstances for Financial Aid

If you or your family have experienced a circumstance that affects your ability to contribute towards your school expenses, you may request that Student Financial Aid Services review your situation to see if you’re eligible for more financial aid.

Review the criteria below to see if your situation qualifies as a special circumstance.

You cannot request a special circumstance review by Student Financial Aid Services for the following situations:

I had a loss/reduction of my income/benefits. Is that a special circumstance?

If there was a significant change in income or benefits that is not reflected in the information provided on your financial aid application, you can download a Loss or Reduction of Income/Benefits Request.

Situations that qualify can be one or a combination of the following:

  • Loss or termination of a job
  • Reduced working hours, salary, or hourly wages
  • Loss of unemployment compensation
  • Reduction/loss of child support
  • Loss of Social Security benefits

The following situations are not considered a special circumstance:

  • Voluntary leave from a job
  • Reduced overtime pay

Follow our steps to request a review of your special circumstance.

My household size changed. Is that a special circumstance?

Your expected family contribution (EFC) index is used to determine how much financial aid you will receive and is calculated by the information provided on your financial aid application at the time of submission.

If there was a significant change that occurred after submitting your application that is not representing your current situation, then you can download an EFC Adjustments Request.

Situations that qualify can be one or a combination of the following:

  • Legal separation or divorce
    • Dependent Students: Your parent(s) was married at the time you completed your FAFSA/TASFA but are now divorced or legally separated.
    • Independent Students: You were married at the time you completed your FAFSA/TASFA but are now divorced or legally separated.
  • Death of a parent or spouse
    • Dependent Students: One or both parents listed on your FAFSA/TASFA is now deceased, which caused a change in income/resources/benefits.
    • Independent Students: Your spouse, whose income is listed on your FAFSA/TASFA, is now deceased.

Follow our steps to request a review of your special circumstance.

I have additional/unusual expenses. Is that a special circumstance?

Only some additional/unusual expense situations qualify as a special circumstance.

If there was a significant change that occurred after submitting your financial aid application that is not representing your current situation, then you can download an EFC Adjustments Request.

Situations that qualify can be one or a combination of the following:

  • Unusual expenses:
    • High medical, dental, nursing home expenses paid out of pocket not covered by insurance
    • Child or dependent care paid out of pocket
    • Elementary or secondary school expenses required for specialized care or needs
    • Impact created by a natural disaster or catastrophic event
  • Your parent will be enrolled in a college at least half-time and their tuition, fees and books are not covered by other sources

The following situations are not considered a special circumstance:

  • Expenses related to personal lifestyle (e.g., credit card debt, mortgage, or car payments)

Follow our steps to request a review of your special circumstance.

How can I be considered an independent student?

If you meet one of the following, you can download a Dependency Change Request:

  • Estrangement from your parents due to a family environment that threatens your health or safety, or other unusual circumstances beyond your control
  • Married after having completed the financial aid application
  • Parent(s) has refused to complete or provide information (note: this would only grant you eligibility for unsubsidized loans)

The following situations are not considered a special circumstance:

  • Short-term estrangement that is not due to a hostile or unsafe family environment
  • Parent has refused to contribute to your education
  • You are self-sufficient
  • Parent(s) lives in another country

Follow our steps to request a review of your special circumstance.

Am I required to submit documentation with my special circumstance request?

Yes, you must submit documentation to support the reason(s) for your request. This helps Student Financial Aid Services with its decision during the review.

Please see the appropriate circumstance form for examples of required documentation based on your special circumstance.

Incomplete documentation could result in a delay or denial of your request.

How do I request a review of my special circumstance?

  1. Print and complete the appropriate special circumstance form from the above sections.
  2. Submit the completed special circumstance form and your supporting documentation to Student Financial Aid Services in-person, or by email, fax, or postal mail. Learn how to submit your documentation.
  3. Allow 3-4 weeks for processing. Monitor your student email for any follow-up requests for information or decisions.

Note: Decisions are made on a case-by-case basis and with adequate documentation. The Department of Education does not have the authority to override a school's decision.

Have questions?

Contact Student Financial Aid Services.

Updated March 31, 2022