You can file a special circumstances appeal if your family financial situation changes
The Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships has an Independent Special Circumstances Form and a Dependent Special Circumstances Form for students (and their families) to complete the appeals process. With the significant change to the FAFSA protocol and base year, the Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships has developed a newly formatted Special Circumstances Form that should make completion of an appeal more flexible.
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, optical, prescriptions, and health care insurance premiums. Expenses should be approximately at least 7.5% 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. Loss of untaxed Social Security benefits that are excluded from the EFC calculation can not be considered. In addition, employer paid health benefits cannot be addressed in this category but may be addressed in high medical expenses.
- Divorced parties must live in separate residences.
- 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
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 2019-2020 FAFSA is based on the 2017 tax year. The 2019-2020 Special Circumstance Form can consider changes in actual 2018 or projected 2019 income.
Income information changes are limited to a change in job status or separation from work are unusually 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 (included with the appeal form)
- Student’s (and spouse’s—if appropriate) IRS Tax Return Transcript or a complete signed personal copy of a 1040-A, 1040-EZ, or 1040 if the IRS Tax Return Transcript could not be obtained from the IRS
- Parents’ (if student is dependent) IRS Tax Return Transcript or a complete signed personal copy of a 1040-A, 1040-EZ, or 1040 if the IRS Tax Return Transcript could not be obtained from the IRS
- 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.
Budget Adjustment Appeals
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 repair 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 meet with financial aid counselor. You can also email our office at firstname.lastname@example.org for help in completing your appeal.