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) for the 2020-2021 academic year.

The FAFSA for the 2020-2021 academic year will use 2018 IRS reported income or Prior-Prior Year (PPY) income. Students MAY NOT deviate from this requirement and elect to use 2019 income data instead. Additionally, any income changes between 2018 and 2019 that do not meet the acceptable special circumstances conditions that are outlined below cannot be used to replace the 2018 income information on the FAFSA.

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 which have not been reflected on the FAFSA. The special circumstance may either increase or decrease data elements used to calculate a student’s EFC. All decisions are final. There is no appeal process to the U.S. Department of Education.

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 and it must have occurred on or after 2018 for us to proceed.

To initiate an appeal request, please review the acceptable conditions, below. Follow the link under the acceptable condition that applies to you. Each form has detailed instructions as to the documents needed to evaluate your special circumstance and where to submit the paperwork.

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
  • Furlough
  • 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.