Special Circumstance recognizes that some situations are not reflected correctly on the FAFSA.
A Special Circumstance or Family Contribution appeal allows for a financial aid adjustment due to the recent financial or household changes—such as unemployment or reduction in work earnings of a student or their parent(s). This refers to a significant change in current 2022 income compared to the required 2020 income/tax data reported on their 2022-223 FAFSA. At ASU, this appeal is made through the Special Circumstance Process. After reviewing the following information, you can use the link below to complete the 23-23 Special Circumstance Application.
Special Circumstance Process
Financial aid eligibility for each academic year is calculated based on the information you provided on the FAFSA. The income and asset information that you submitted was evaluated by a formula called Federal Methodology as set by Congress. This formula assumes that 2020 income is a good predictor of the family’s financial strength during the student’s 2022–23 enrollment. Based on this assumption, financial aid eligibility is determined using 2020 tax return information.
We understand that circumstances may arise where your family’s financial situation may be jeopardized creating challenges in financing your education. Should this be the case, please complete the Special Circumstances Application below. Please note that this application should only be completed if your family’s financial situation has significantly changed from the previous calendar year to the current calendar year.
The primary reason for a special circumstance is to make qualifying adjustments to the family adjusted gross income which may lower a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). In some instances, this adjustment will assist in qualifying the student for grant funding. If the student’s EFC is already 0, there is no reason to submit a Special Circumstance.
Situations that may merit a special circumstance appeal include, but are not limited to:
- Loss or change of employment
- Loss or change in amount of child support, Social Security or other benefits
- Divorce or separation of parents
- Death of parent(s)
- Unusual medical expenses (not covered by insurance)
- One-time taxable income used for life changing events (e.g. IRA, pension distribution, back-year Social Security payments)
- Parent retired
Situations that do NOT merit a special circumstance appeal include, but are not limited to:
- Standard living expenses (e.g. utilities, credit card payments, children’s allowances, etc.)
- Mortgage payments
- Car payments
- Credit card or other personal debts
- Vacation expenses
- All other discretionary expenses
- Reduction in assets due to market changes
What if I am not sure I qualify for a special circumstance or have questions?
Contact the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships by phone, email or by coming to the office to explain your situation. You will be directed to a Financial Aid Counselor who will discuss the specifics of your situation to determine if you should submit a special circumstance application.