Extenuating/Special Circumstances Presented by: Earl Tretheway University at Albany
What are Extenuating/Special Circumstances? Although the formula used to determine eligibility for federal student aid is basically the same for all applicants, there is some flexibility. In some cases the financial aid administrator might adjust the cost of attendance or the information used to calculate the EFC to take into account any extenuating circumstances the student might have. Extenuating Circumstances are conditions that DIFFERENTIATE an individual student, not a condition that exists for a whole class of students.
Extenuating Circumstances Divorce Separation Death Job loss High medical expenses Elementary and Secondary tuition costs. Independence: always refer to the financial aid office at the school.
Other Extenuating Circumstances There may be unique situations that do not fall into these parameters. Always check with the financial aid administrator to see if the student may qualify.
Timing…. If conditions such as death, divorce and separation occur prior to submission of the original FAFSA, that information should be reflected on the initial FAFSA form. Extenuating/Special Circumstance forms should be filed only after the original FAFSA has been processed.
How does a student apply? Contact the school for an application and guidance. Most schools have a specific application that they can send to you which specifies what documentation is required. Always remember: Documentation, Documentation Documentation!
Examples of Documentation Scenario: Unemployment: If a parent loses their job in January 2013 and the information reported on the FAFSA is from 2012. An Extenuating Circumstance has occurred. Possible required documentation: A letter from the former employer stating the last day of work and YTD earnings. Documentation of any severance pay and unemployment benefits received.
Most schools do not accept this paperwork until after a certain amount of time has passed. This is due to temporary situations. Always check with the school.
Deadlines Most schools set up deadlines. Make sure you check and adhere to these dates. Try to work with one person at the school. Remember just because one school has approved and processed an extenuating circumstance for the student, this does not mean that all schools will do the same. This decision is determined by each school.
Dependency Overrides Case by Case basis. Examples: Relative has legal guardianship of student. Student unable to live at family residence due to documented abuse. Parents unwillingness to provide information or support the students education DOES NOTqualify for an override.
Dependency Status Red Flags I’m pregnant… I have nothing to do with my parents… My parents kicked me out… I live with a relative… My parents do not support me…. My parents do not claim me on their tax returns.. My parents won’t pay for my college education…. ETC….
Final Thoughts Always check the financial aid administrator if you have any extenuating circumstances that might affect the amount the family is expected to contribute or the student’s dependency status. There always needs to be a very good reason along with proper documentation to support the claim . The administrators decision is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.