Financial Aid

Special Circumstances Consideration

If you (and your family) have unusual circumstances that might affect your financial situation, complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Then talk with Enrollment Services staff to see if documenting your situation could adjust the information used to calculate your aid eligibility or cost of education.

Special circumstances appeals are not an appeal for more aid, but instead demonstrate a change in circumstances from the FAFSA income and family reporting. While a change may seem severe, it may or may not result in a change in aid eligibility.

Common cases where a review and discussion with Enrollment Services might be helpful include the following:

  • Loss of job, decrease in work hours, change in job, or retirement when looking at today v. the FAFSA tax year
  • Death or divorce since FAFSA was filed
  • Loss of child support or untaxed income reported on the FAFSA
  • One-time payout as part of income reported on the FAFSA
  • Medical expenses not covered by insurance that exceed the amount the FAFSA already estimates the family will incur

Discuss Your Situation with Us

Special circumstances reviews primarily look at revising your FAFSA information based on current situation v. your income reported on the FAFSA via taxes 2 years ago. It can lead to an adjustment in your aid eligibility, but it is not an appeal for more aid.

While we would like to award additional assistance to all students and know there are very needy situations experienced by students and families, aid programs are awarded based on eligibility factors, timing of your FAFSA, and limits to funding available.

We encourage students (and families) to discuss their situation with Enrollment Services (; 513-556-1000) prior to submitting a special circumstance appeal. While we are happy to do any appeal reviews, we want you to understand your current as well as potential aid status so as to help you assess whether or not the documentation of your appeal circumstance is likely to change your aid eligibility.  

Special circumstance reviews are currently being considered for the 2023-24 academic year if enrolled in summer.

Special circumstance review for the 2024-25 academic year, because it will be based on your 2024-25 FAFSA and aid package, will not begin until we have the approprate FAFSA data from the federal processor and made an award for you for 2024-25.

Key Limits

As staff review your situation, there are some overarching elements that play into whether a special circumstance appeal is helpful for a student.

  • FAFSA Required and Financial Aid Offered
    Before we can look at a special circumstance situation, you need to have the year's FAFSA on file based on the questions asked on it and have completed any verification of FAFSA data when selected. An aid package for the year lets us know what you are currently eligible for so that staff can see if a change in eligibility would result in a change of aid.
  • Income v. Expenses
    Just as the FAFSA is a reporting of income information along with key demographic information, special circumstance consideration is based primarily on loss of income. With the FAFSA using tax information from 2 years ago, there may be a different income picture now. Medical expenses not covered by insurance beyond the amount already accounted for due to family size is the main expense category we can consider.

  • Graduate or Professional Students
    Because graduate and professional students are not eligible for need-based federal aid other than Federal Work-Study, special circumstance consideration is unlikely to change aid eligibility for graduate or professional students.

  • -0- EFC for 2023-24 or -1500 SAI for 2024-25
    If your 2023-24 FAFSA has a -0- expected family contribution (EFC) or your 2024-25 FAFSA calculated a -1500 SAI, you are as eligible as possible for need-based aid, and special circumstance consideration cannot make you any more eligible for aid.

  • Aid Limits
    Special circumstances is not an appeal for more aid. And cases where a student has already received their annual or aggregate loan amount or exhausted lifetime limit on Federal Pell Grant will not see additional aid regardless of the special circumstance appeal outcome.

Also understand that a special circumstance review could alter your EFC and change your financial need but still not result in a change in your financial aid due to eligibility requirements of specific aid programs.

Staff in Enrollment Services are happy to review your current aid eligibility and special circumstance situation to determine if an appeal is advisable.

While UC will process any special circumstance appeal submitted, we also don't want students or families to share difficult information in a formal appeal or collect documentation without a realistic understanding of how the adjustments are likely (or not) to affect aid eligibility.

Talk to staff via or 513-556-1000. You can also meet with staff at any of the 3 service locations: 220 University Pavilion (Clifton/Uptown Campus),150 Muntz Hall (UC Blue Ash), and 100 Student Services Building (UC Clermont).

M.D. students in the College of Medicine (COM) with unusual circumstances should work directly with the COM Office of Financial Services.