Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships

Special Circumstances

If your family’s financial situation has changed for the worse since last year (or since you filed your FAFSA,) you should review the categories most commonly appealed list below.  If you have questions, you can make an inquiry through our email service.

The Office of Financial Aid has a Special Circumstances Form for students (and their families) to complete the appeals process.

The Special Circumstances Appeals that are mostly commonly submitted for consideration are listed below:

  • Change in Job Status:
    • Worked full-time for all or part of the year reported on the FAFSA and now work part-time.
    • Worked at a higher paying job for all or part of the year reported on the FAFSA and now work at a lower paying job.
  • Separation from Work:
    • Separated from work because of layoff, termination (voluntary or involuntary) and are no longer working.
  • High Medical Expenses:
    • Eligible expenses include paid and non-reimbursed medical, dental and health care insurance premiums. Expenses should be approximately at least 10% of Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) to meet the minimum threshold required for consideration.
  • Loss of Benefits:
    • Benefits (e.g., child support) that were reported on your FAFSA have been reduced or lost.  Employer paid health benefits cannot be addressed in this category but may be addressed in high medical expenses.
  • Divorce:
    • Divorced parties must live in separate residences.
  • Death:
    • Death of parent or spouse.
  • Private School Tuition:
    • Expenses are restricted to tuition (no books, uniforms or non-academic fees) for younger siblings or children.
  • Marital Separation Pending Divorce:
    • Parties must live in separate residences pending divorce action.
  • Married After Completing FAFSA
    • Student must submit 2014 IRS Tax Return Transcripts for self and spouse, complete a V-1 Worksheet for Independent Students, and provide a marriage license.  Assets information may be required.
  • Parent Attending College:
    • Parent must be enrolled at least half-time in a program that leads to a degree or certificate. Most undergraduate programs require a minimum of six credits and most graduate programs require a minimum of four credits to be considered half-time.

Income information for the FAFSA is based on the last complete tax year. For example, for the 2015-2016 academic year, the income information used on the FAFSA is 2014. A Special Circumstances Form would consider income changes reflected in 2015. The categories of change in job status or separation from work are restricted to the parents of dependent students or independent students. 

When submitting a Special Circumstances Form, all students are required to submit the following:

  • V-1 Verification Worksheet for Dependent or Independent Students
  • Student’s (and spouse’s—if appropriate) IRS Tax Return Transcript
  • Parents’ (if student is dependent) IRS Tax Return Transcript
  • Documentation of all untaxed income reported on the FAFSA
  • Documentation of all special income or expenses reported on the FAFSA

When identifying your special circumstance for appeal, please note that each special circumstance requires documentation specific to the nature of the appeal.  It is very important to submit a complete appeal to avoid delay in processing.

Students may submit appeals for budget adjustments for a limited number of categories as follows:

  • Child care costs while in class
  • Elder care costs while in class
  • Expenses related to disability that allow a student to attend class (for example, purchase of a tape recorder and tapes for a student who is physically unable to take notes in class).
  • Purchase of a computer needed for school (one as undergraduate, one as graduate)
  • Reasonable automobile expenses needed to school transportation
  • Change in housing from at home to off-campus housing.

These added expenses will not increase the amount of gift aid assistance available. Students whose loan eligibility increases as the result of a budget adjustment may be able to borrow additional funds by completing the Budget Adjustment Appeals Form and submit it with the required documentation.

While it is not a "special circumstance" to believe that there is an error on the data provided on the FAFSA, you should bring your documentation (tax and asset documents and Verification Worksheet) to a meeting with one of the Financial Aid Counselors to review your application in detail.  Corrections to the application and adjustments to an award will be made if needed.

If you have questions you may schedule visit the Enrollment Services counter in the University Center on Mondays and Thursdays to request a referral to meet with financial aid counselor.