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In certain cases, students may wish to submit information about their financial situation in relation to their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The Office of Financial Aid may be able to provide assistance based on special circumstances.

Special Circumstances

A family’s current situation may not always be accurately reflected on the FAFSA as it is based on financial data from two years prior and situations may change by the time the FAFSA is filed. Review the examples listed on this page, and contact the Office of Financial Aid or schedule a virtual appointment to discuss any special circumstance you would like to have reviewed.

Examples of Special Circumstances Considered

  • Higher than usual student cost of attendance due to child care expense, health insurance, disability related expenses, etc.
  • Loss or reduction of income (layoff, illness, forced reduction of hours, temporary employment, etc.)
  • Catastrophic medical or dental expenses
  • Death, divorce, or separation of parents or spouse
  • Non-recurring payments receiving during the FAFSA tax year that will not be repeated
  • Loss of benefits, such as unemployment, disability, social security, veterans, child support, or alimony

Examples of Special Circumstances NOT Considered

  • Increase of standard living expenses
  • Purchasing material items such as a car, home appliances, vacations, second homes, etc.
  • Reduction of assets. Changes in assets will be reflected on the following year’s FAFSA.

Unusual Circumstances

Students may have circumstances that are outside the normal situations captured by the FAFSA. Unusual circumstances refer to conditions that justify adjusting a student’s dependency status on the FAFSA based on unique situations (e.g., human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abandonment, incarceration), more commonly referred to as dependency override.

Unaccompanied Youth at Risk of Homelessness

Youth who are determined to be unaccompanied homeless youth, or unaccompanied youth who are self-supporting and at risk of homelessness, meet the definition of an independent student for financial aid purposes.

Provisional Independent Status

Beginning with the 2024-25 award year, otherwise dependent students who indicate that they have unusual circumstances that prevent them from providing parent data will no longer receive a rejected application but will instead have their application processed with provisional independent status.

Both unusual circumstance students and unaccompanied youth at risk of being homeless will be given provisional independent status. The Office of Financial Aid will follow up with students to submit supporting documentation.

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