What is a Special Circumstance?
There are two types of special circumstances. One occurs when a student or the student’s parent(s) experience a change in their financial situation. This can be due to such events as a job loss, the death of a spouse or parent, or divorce after filing the FAFSA. When a student or parent experiences financial changes, they may complete a Special Circumstance Request form and provide supporting documentation. These will be reviewed by a financial aid administrator who will determine if adjusting data elements in the student’s expected family contribution can be approved.
Another type of special circumstance involves unusual expenses a student may have such as dependent care expenses or purchase of a computer. For this type of request, the student would submit a letter of explanation as well as supporting documentation. These will be reviewed by a financial aid administrator to determine if an adjustment to the student’s cost of attendance can be approved.
What is an Unusual Circumstance?
An unusual circumstance occurs when a dependent student experiences a unique situation that directly impacts his or her dependency status. This can be a situation such as a legally granted refugee or asylum status, parental abandonment or estrangement, human trafficking, or parental incarceration. The student’s FAFSA application is put in a “reject” status because parent information was not provided on the application when it appears it should have been. To determine a student’s financial aid eligibility, the student must first clear this reject status. There are 3 options to do so.
- Request a change in dependency status. When unusual circumstances cause a break in the normal parent/child relationship, a student may complete a Dependency Change Request form to change their dependency status from dependent to independent. A financial aid administrator will review the conditions and determine if a change in dependency status can be approved. The 2023-2024 Dependency Change Request form (below) describes the process and required documentation. Students should complete the form and submit the relevant documentation to Student Financial Services. The student will be notified via email of the final decision and the next steps for receiving financial aid if approved.
- Add parental information to the FAFSA. If parent(s) information was left off by mistake, corrections can be submitted to the 2023-2024 FAFSA online at StudentAid.gov. Both the student and a parent must sign the corrected FAFSA either electronically with an FSA ID username & password or by selecting to print and sign the signature page. If a signature page is printed, the original signed page should be mailed or delivered in person to the Student Financial Services office to be processed electronically. Signature pages are not acceptable if sent by fax, email, or photocopy. Once the corrected FAFSA is processed and no longer in a “reject status” the student will be notified by mail or email of their financial aid eligibility.
- Submit the Parent Disavowal of Support form. When a student submits the Parent Disavowal of Support form, the FAFSA remains in reject status and the student is eligible to receive only an unsubsidized loan. The unsubsidized loan amount is then based on the student’s total credits earned and degree status—up to $5,500 for a first-year student (<31 credits earned), up to $6,500 for a second-year student (working on a certificate or associate degree with 31 or more credits earned), or up to $7,500 for a third-year or higher student (working on a bachelor’s degree with 61 or more credits earned). The 2023-2024 Parent Disavowal of Support form (below) provides instructions. Completed forms must be submitted to Student Financial Services. IMPORTANT! If you choose this option, you cannot receive any other federal or state financial aid except an unsubsidized loan.
Students choosing one of these three options should submit the appropriate form and documentation to the Student Financial Services office via fax, mail, or in person. Each request will be reviewed within a reasonable time from the date all required documentation has been submitted. Please contact us if you have questions or need assistance.