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Appealing Your Financial Aid Eligibility for Special and Unusual Circumstances

Special Circumstances (Income Adjustment Appeal)

Students must first submit a FAFSA before requesting a Special Circumstances appeal. If you have not yet submitted your FAFSA, you may do so by visiting Federal Student Aidnew window.

The FAFSA uses your family’s annual income from almost two years ago to project how much your family can afford to contribute to your expenses while you attend college. This projection is based on the assumption that family income is usually stable over the course of time.
The FAFSA form does not give the student the opportunity to explain a circumstance that could affect his or her ability to pay for college. Federal law allows authorized officials in our office to make certain adjustments to your income data so that it accurately reflects your family’s situation. These types of adjustments are made in accordance with our Professional Judgment Policy on a case-by-case basis. 
If your family has experienced one or more of the following situations, you may qualify for an adjustment to the information on your FAFSA. Making these types of adjustments may result in increased financial aid eligibility.

  • Loss of income due to reduced employment, unemployment, disability, assets or retirement
  • Termination of benefits or income such as child support, alimony, Social Security Benefits
  • One-time occurrence of income such as a debt cancellation, an inheritance, lottery win, or IRA withdrawal
  • Exceptional medical and/or dental expenses incurred, not paid by insurance
  • Divorce or separation that occurred after that FAFSA was filed
  • Death of a parent or spouse that occurred after the FAFSA was filed
  • Parent of Dependent Student also attending College
  • Childcare or secondary school tuition expenses
  • Dependent student no Parent Data
  • Change in housing status (e.g., homelessness)
  • Other changes or adjustments that impact the student’s costs or ability to pay for college

Unusual Circumstances (Change in Dependency Status)

Students who do not meet the criteria to be considered independent for federal student aid purposes may have circumstances that justify an aid administrator making an adjustment to a student’s dependency status based on unique situations such as:

  • human trafficking
  • refugee or asylee status
  • parental abuse
  • abandonment
  • incarceration
  • parent physical or mentally incapacitation

Unusual circumstances do not include:

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.
  • Parents will not provide information for the FAFSA or verification.
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

Appeal Guidelines 

Special Circumstances

You must clearly demonstrate a change in the family’s financial situation occurred either during the tax year used on the FAFSA or later. Our office will use the information provided to determine if your appeal could make an impact to your financial aid award. Submission of this appeal does not guarantee an increase in aid. Please review the information on your FAFSA application for accuracy before submitting an appeal. If the student’s FAFSA is selected for federal verification, that process must be completed before this appeal can be considered.

Unusual Circumstances

You must clearly explain your unusual circumstance.  Documentation from a third-party professional must be submitted to support your circumstance. Our office will use the information provided to determine if your appeal warrants a change in dependency status. 

Appeal Process

1. The student should meet with a Financial Aid Counselor to determine if they should submit a Professional Judgment Appeal Form.
2. The Financial Aid Professional Judgment Committee will review the appeal and notify the student of the final decision.

Make an Appointment with a MC Financial Aid Counselor


What happens next? 

We will review the information you submitted. If we need additional information, the request will be posted in the online system and you will receive an email of the status. Once we have everything necessary, we will make appropriate adjustments to data on your FAFSA. You will receive an email from the FAFSA processing center when this is complete. PLEASE do not make any changes to this data, doing so will cause major delays in processing your aid. Once we receive the adjusted FAFSA processing results, we will adjust your financial aid package. You will receive an email from the Office of Student Financial Aid to review and accept your financial aid in MyMC.