This webpage is to guide students wondering if they should file a special circumstances appeal. While an appeal may be appropriate with a large reduction in income when compared with the FAFSA tax year from 2 years ago, appeals do not always result in aid changes.
A special circumstance appeal is to assess if you (or your family, if a dependent student) has increased financial need than what was assessed through completion of the FAFSA. By sharing key information such as income, household size, number in college, state of residence, and even age of parents, the federal formula will calculate an estimated family contribution (EFC). Your EFC is subtracted from your estimated cost of attending college to give you financial need. The lower your EFC, the higher your financial need.
While some aid programs like the Federal Pell Grant is awarded based on your EFC, other aid programs are based on your financial need. Many need-based aid programs are also limited to students with very high financial need or low EFCs.
Where an Appeal Is Unlikely to Change Aid
Two student groups where aid is not likely to change through a special circumstances appeal:
- Students who have a -0- (zero) estimated family contribution
- Graduate or professional students