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Special Circumstances

The FAFSA uses a standardized formula when determining eligibility for Title IV financial aid. There are circumstances, especially during this period of economic hardship, where adjustments are warranted due to changes in a student's (or their family’s) income, living situation, or expenses. Upon a student’s request, the Financial Aid Office will perform a review of their current circumstances and supporting documentation to determine if they qualify for an income adjustment, dependency override, or cost of attendance adjustment.

The Income Adjustment Request form should be utilized for students with a household reduction of income following the base FAFSA tax year. Situations that may result in the need for an income adjustment are (but not limited to):

  • Change in employment status: layoff, termination, displacement, or change in status from full-time to part-time
  • Divorce, separation, or death of a spouse (or parent) following completion of the FAFSA
  • One-time lump sum received in the base tax year
  • Excessive out-of-pocket expenses above the Income Protection Allowance included in the Estimated Family Contribution formula
    • 30% for Food Expenses
    • 22% for Housing Expenses
    • 9% for Transportation Expenses
    • 16% for Personal Expenses
    • 11% for Medical Expenses
    • 12% for Other Miscellaneous Expenses

Students will need to provide documentation to support the reduction of household income and current situation. Once a student has gathered the appropriate documentation, they should complete the Income Adjustment Request Form with the help of the Coordinator of Financial Aid at their college.

In some cases, it may be necessary to request an IRS Tax Return Transcript; to do so, click here. and review “What You Need” to determine how you’d like to receive your tax transcript (online or by mail). Click the appropriate button and follow remaining prompts. Using the Get Transcript by Mail option takes approximately 10 days to receive by mail. Should the timing exceed 10 days, the Financial Aid Office may be able to accept a copy of the filed and signed tax return in place of the IRS Tax Return Transcript.

The Appeal Form for Change in Dependency Status is available for unmarried, undergraduate students under the age of 24 with unusual and extenuating family circumstances that cannot answer “Yes” to any of the following questions on the FAFSA:

  • At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
  • As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
  • Does someone other than your parent or stepparent have legal guardianship of you, as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2020, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2020, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
  • At any time on or after July 1, 2020, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?

The Financial Aid Office cannot approve a dependency override for a student under 24 whose parents are not willing to financially assist the student and/or provide their personal information on the student's FAFSA. However, the situations below, while not all-inclusive, are indicative of a dependency override:  

  • Natural disasters (loss of home)
  • Your custodial parent has died and the other natural parent is still living. You have had no contact with nor received financial support from the living parent for a significant period of time (more than 2 years).
  • Your family situation is unreasonable. The dysfunction may be the result of physical, emotional, or drug or alcohol abuse. In some cases, a professional may have counseled you to live apart from your parent(s).

Students should meet with the Coordinator of Financial Aid at their college for assistance with the form and guidance in determining the appropriate documentation for their situation.

The Cost of Attendance Adjustment form should be utilized when a student has need for additional scholarships, expanded student loan borrowing, or an increase to the federal work study award due to incurred educational expenses over and beyond the Cost of Attendance (COA), as determined by the institution. The COA includes an allowance for your actual tuition and fees and the estimated cost of books and supplies, room and board, transportation, and personal expenses. However, the COA may be increased for the following expenses:

  • Childcare costs incurred while attending classes and/or during study hours
  • One-time computer or tablet purchase to be used for your education
  • Student healthcare expenses that are not covered or reimbursed by insurance
  • Books and supplies above the estimated amount
  • Transportation expenses above the estimated amount
  • Other expenses may be considered with appropriate documentation

Students should meet with the Coordinator of Financial Aid at their college for assistance with the form.