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Special Circumstance

A change in financial circumstances can sometimes impact a family’s ability to afford college. We may be able to help.

A change in financial circumstances can sometimes impact a family’s ability to afford college.  This can include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Change in marital status (separation, divorced, or widowed)
  • Reduction or loss of income (e.g., retirement, loss of job, change of job, bankruptcy, death in family)
  • Reduction or loss of child support (e.g., alimony)
  • Reduction or loss of benefit (e.g., unemployment, social security, retirement, disability, TANF)
  • High non-reimbursed medical expense
  • A draw-down of pension/retirement plan that was transferred to a new pension/retirement plan

If a student’s or parent’s financial situation has changed since the completion of the FAFSA, due to the COVID-19 pandemic or for other reasons, a student or parent can request a re-evaluation of a federal financial aid package via a request for special circumstance.  Depending upon the original results of the FAFSA and the magnitude of change, completing a special circumstance could result in a positive financial aid impact or no impact at all.

For example, a parent may have correctly reported on the 2021–2022 FAFSA that their federally adjusted gross income was $85,000 in 2019.  However, they have since lost their job and are currently unemployed. If this family submits a special circumstance along with supporting documentation, it could result in the addition of a Pell Grant to the student’s financial aid package.

On the other hand, since students with a $0 EFC already have the lowest EFC possible, there is no possible benefit and no reason to submit a special circumstance.  In addition, there would be no reason to submit a special circumstance if a parent’s adjusted gross income slightly changed from $500,000 per year to $495,000 per year.

Since we don’t want to waste your limited time, we encourage students and parents to contact our Student Financial Services (SFS) to discuss any change in circumstance before taking the time to collect the required documentation and submit the paperwork. This provides us with an opportunity to evaluate whether there is any potential benefit of taking the time to collect and submit the paperwork.

Contact & More Information

Reach our Department

To proceed with the special circumstance review process, select and print the appropriate form below. Return it to SFS with your supporting documentation (itemized in step 4 of the special circumstance form).  

2021–2022 Academic Year

2022–2023 Academic Year

Special circumstance review for the 2022-2023 academic year will begin in February 2022.  Contact our office in the interim to discuss your financial changes and gather information about the review process. 

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