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Special Circumstances

Special Circumstances Can Affect Your Financial Aid Package

Although the process of determining eligibility for financial aid is the same for all students, an adjustment sometimes can be made if you or your family encounter special circumstances, such as a reduction in income due to loss of employment, death, or disability of a wage earner, divorce or separation, loss of Social Security benefits, unusual medical expenses, and so on. In addition, a student who does not meet the federal definition of an independent student for financial aid purposes may be able to document those exceptional circumstances in order to be considered an independent student.

Reduction of Income

If you and/or your parent has experienced a loss of $10,000 or more in income or benefits, or has unreimbursed medical expenses that exceed 7.5 % of the family's adjusted gross income from a prior calendar year, you may submit a Reduction of Income Information Form to the Financial Aid Office. We will review the form and re-evaluate your financial aid eligibility. See if you meet the Reduction of Income qualifications, or contact the Financial Aid office for more information.

Dependency Appeal Process

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) clearly defines who is considered a dependent or independent student for financial aid purposes. However, there are rare instances when the Financial Aid Office determines that a dependent student should complete the FAFSA as an independent student (even though the student does not meet any of the independent student criteria) due to very unique circumstance occurring in the student's family household. The Financial Aid Office makes this determination based on information provided to our office on the Dependency Appeal Form. Please contact the Financial Aid Office for more information.

The U.S. Department of Education has established very strict standards regarding the circumstances under which a financial aid office may authorize a change to a student’s dependency status.  The regulations require a student to demonstrate that circumstances have severed the relationship between the student and his/her parent(s) and left it irreparable and without chance of reconciliation.  A parent’s unwillingness or inability to financially contribute to the student’s education or to provide information does not qualify as “unusual circumstances.”  Also, a student’s desire to live on their own or move out after a falling out with their parent(s) does not qualify.  Typically, documented proof of physical and/or mental abuse or abandonment is needed to support the request.