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Special Circumstance/Professional Judgement: Appeal Guidelines

The Special Circumstance Appeal allows a student to request a professional judgment related to special circumstances that may qualify for an adjustment to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or Cost of Attendance (COA).

A Special Circumstance Appeal may be used when a family’s financial status has changed since filing the FAFSA or you have an expense that was not considered as part of the FAFSA.  Contact us to determine whether your special circumstance may have an impact on the type or amount of financial aid that is available.

Generally adjustments can be made for the following situations:

Cost of Attendance (COA) Change
If you are attempting to increase the overall COA, the following items may be taken into consideration:
• Vehicle repair/mileage expenses
• Computer purchase
• Dependent care allowance
• Professional licensure exams (graduate students only)

Note: An increase in your COA does not allow for an increase in any financial aid award if you have already been awarded the maximum annual Direct Stafford loan amount. However, students may pursue private/Parent PLUS/Grad PLUS loan options up to the new COA. For example: a dependent undergraduate freshman student who has already received a Direct Stafford Loan for $5500 during the previous fall and spring semesters cannot receive additional Stafford Loan funding due to a change in COA.

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Change
If you are attempting to reduce the EFC, the following items may be taken into consideration.
• Unusual medical and/or dental expenses
• Parent’s enrollment in postsecondary education program
• Decrease in income
• Nonrecurring income or one-time income exclusion
• Separated, divorced, or widowed since filing FAFSA

Note: Students that already have an Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) of zero should not submit an appeal for an EFC change since it cannot be decreased further.

Other situations
If you feel the items listed above do not fully reference your special circumstance and would like our office to review your situation, contact us for assistance.


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  2014 - 2015 Aid Year
      • Special Circumstance Appeal