Appeal Request due to Special Circumstances

The Office of Financial Aid, on a case-by-case basis, may use professional judgment for students with “special circumstances” that affect a family’s ability to pay for college. These special circumstances are not reflected in the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)


Students must use the income for the required year on the FAFSA. Students MAY NOT deviate from this requirement and use current income instead.


The FAFSA is designed to determine a family’s eligibility for federal and state financial aid by calculating the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) amount. The EFC is a measure of how much the student and their family can be expected to contribute to the cost of the student’s education for the year. An appeal request takes into consideration factors that have not been reflected on the FAFSA. The special circumstance may either increase or decrease data elements used to calculate a student’s EFC.

Special Circumstance Policies differ from school to school. Meeting an acceptable special circumstance condition allows the Office of Financial Aid to collect and review all pertinent data needed for the appeal. Please be aware, an appeal request does not guarantee eligibility for additional aid.

With respect to any special circumstance appeal, all decisions made by the Office of Financial Aid are final. There is no appeal process within the University or to the U.S. Department of Education.

Acceptable Special Circumstance Conditions

The special circumstance that a family falls under will determine which income year is used in the re-evaluation. Please note that a family must be currently experiencing one of these circumstances.

To initiate an appeal request, please review the acceptable conditions below. If you believe your circumstances warrant an appeal, please email the Office of Financial Aid at financialaid@westfield.ma.edu with “detailed” information about your situation.  The Financial Aid Office will respond to you regarding any further documentation needed to pursue your appeal.

Acceptable Appeal Conditions:

  • Unemployed
  • Disability-Permanent or Long Term
  • Retirement
  • Death of Parent or Spouse
  • Separation/Divorce
  • Loss of income
  • Medical Expenses (not covered by insurance)
  • One-time IRA/Pension withdrawal

Unacceptable Appeal Conditions:

  • Loss or change in the amount of overtime, commission or bonus
  • Loss of second full-time job or a part-time job
  • Removal of gambling winnings/losses or a one-time occurrence of income
  • Private school tuition payments
  • Credit card or other personal debt problems
  • Foreclosure
  • Bankruptcy
  • All other discretionary expenses

New Admits – Prior to requesting an appeal, you must first receive your Financial Aid offer.

Once your request is received, an evaluation process will take place. You will be contacted with the results of our final review, generally within 4 to 6 weeks of submitting all required documentation via e-mail. 

If after an initial review of your special circumstance it is determined that additional documents are needed, a formal request will be sent via email.

You are still responsible for any outstanding charges or late fees while under appeal review.