Special Circumstances


Although the formula used to determine eligibility for federal student aid is similar for all applicants, there is some flexibility. In some cases, the Financial Aid Office might adjust your cost of attendance or the information used to calculate your expected family contribution (EFC) to consider any particular circumstances you might have. These circumstances could include a family’s unusual medical expenses or tuition expenses. Also, an adjustment might be made if you, your spouse, or either parent (if applicable) have had significant changes in income. This will be determined by comparing last year’s income tax return with the current one.

Special Circumstances refer to the financial situations (loss of a job, etc.) that justify adjusting the cost of attendance or the EFC calculation

The following may be considered as a special circumstance:

  • Change in employment status, income, or assets;
  • Change in housing status (such as experiencing homelessness);
  • Tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school;
  • Medical, dental, or nursing home expenses not covered by insurance;
  • Child or dependent care expenses;
  • Severe disability of the student or other member of the student’s household; or
  • Other changes or adjustments that impact the student’s costs or ability to pay for college.

Unusual Circumstances refer to the conditions that justify adjusting a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation (such as human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abuse or abandonment, incarceration), more commonly referred to as a dependency override.

The following may be considered as an unusual circumstance:

  • Human trafficking, as described in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.);
  • Legally granted refugee or asylum status;
  • Parental abandonment or estrangement; or
  • Student or parental incarceration.

If you feel that you have a special or unusual circumstance, please email [email protected], with your information and a brief description of the request. Financial Aid will respond with the documentation needed for review.

NOTE: The Financial Aid Office decision is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.

Increased Title IV Aid for Military Dependents

Beginning 2009-2010, students whose parent or guardian died as a result of U.S. military service in Iraq or Afghanistan after September 11, 2001, may receive increased amounts of Title IV student financial assistance. Pell-eligible students will receive all Title IV aid based on an EFC (Expected Family Contribution) of zero without regard to students’ calculated EFC on SAR/ISIR.