Special Circumstances Appeal Letter

You may be able to get additional loans or a grant if your financial situation changes after you submit the FAFSA, or if the FAFSA does not capture a financial difficulty that you are facing.

While there is no guarantee that your school will adjust your financial package, federal law allows financial aid officers to use "professional judgement" to update the information used to calculate a student's financial aid offer. Due to COVID-19, new emergency financial aid from the CARES Act may be available to students who apply through their schools. Schools will distribute this emergency aid as cash grants to students whose applications are approved.

A variety of situations or special circumstances may be considered by your financial aid office. If your request is approved, you may receive grant aid or you may be able to take on new federal student loans to help you pursue your education.

If your school does not offer an online application form or you cannot reach out to the financial aid office during business hours, you can start the conversation by using the free SwiftStudent Special Circumstances Appeal, and submitting it to your financial aid office.

Who is eligible to make a Special Circumstances Appeal?

A Special Circumstance Appeal is available to qualifying students at all types of institutions (Graduate, 4-year, 2-year and trade) offering federal financial aid. 

You should submit a Special Circumstance Appeal if there is a significant change in your financial situation, or if your FAFSA does not capture a financial difficulty that you are currently facing. The government does not specify the situations that could qualify as a special circumstance.

At some schools, special circumstances may include medical or dental or nursing home expenses not covered by insurance, past experience living in foster care, being homeless or a dislocated worker, recent unemployment of a family member, incarceration of a family member, elementary or secondary school tuition, or other changes in the family's income or assets. Other life-changing events that could qualify as a special circumstance include disability, medical crisis, domestic violence, pregnancy, loss of childcare, divorce, separation, death or a natural disaster.

A Special Circumstance Appeal may also be used to share ongoing circumstances not included on the FAFSA. For example, a family member with a chronic illness and high unreimbursed medical expenses would be a part of your financial situation that the FAFSA would not capture.

You should know that not all of these examples are considered "special circumstances" by all schools. That said, even if the change in your financial situation is not listed here, you should consider submitting a Special Circumstance Appeal. Each school sets its own policies about this kind of appeal, and you will learn more once you start the conversation with your financial aid office.

When should I ask the financial aid office about this option?

It may take the financial aid office some time to evaluate your request, so you should ask the financial aid office about this option as soon as possible. While deadlines vary by school, it is best to share your situation promptly to make sure you don't miss out on support or information about the process.

How do I submit a Special Circumstance Appeal to my school?

Your best next step is to visit your school's financial aid website or to contact your financial aid office. Some schools have online forms, some schools have walk-in hours and others have appointment only options.

If your school does not offer a form online and you cannot reach out to the financial aid office during business hours, you can start the conversation with your financial aid office by submitting the SwiftStudent Special Circumstance Appeal.

Be sure to use the free SwiftStudent worksheet to help you keep track of your interactions with your financial aid office.

What documents do I need to include with my Special Circumstance Appeal? 

You should include documents that show costs associated with change in your financial situation. Supporting documents can include bills; signed letters from caregivers, medical or service providers; court documents; termination letter; unemployment benefits; final pay stub or out-of-pocket repair costs after a natural disaster. It's up to your financial aid office to determine what documents are required. The goal of these documents is to confirm the change in your financial situation.

Do not submit original documents to your financial aid office. The financial aid office needs to retain documentation for their records, so they can't return them to you. You should submit copies of your documents only.

Be sure to keep a written record of your communications with the financial aid office, including copies of letters and conversation notes. You can download a free SwiftStudent worksheet to help you keep track of names, dates, and conversations.

What should I expect after I submit my Special Circumstance Appeal? 

Your financial aid office may need additional documents or information to make a decision.

Make sure to check your official school email address every day so that you don't miss a response from your financial aid office. You can also reach out to your financial aid office to check on the status of your request.

If your request is approved, the financial aid office will share how much more aid you can expect to receive, if any. If you are offered a loan, it's important to consider the type of loan and how the amount will help you reach educational goals.

If your request is denied, it doesn't mean you're out of options. Ask your financial aid office why the request was denied and what other community or institutional resources are available.

Sample Special Circumstances Appeal Letter

Read Full Document

Sample Special Circumstances Appeal Letter

+
Create Special Circumstances Appeal Letter