Special and Unusual Circumstances - Professional Judgement

Special and/or Unusual circumstances may sometimes occur when your current financial or dependency situation is no longer accurately reflected on your FAFSA application.

Section 479A of the HEA gives an institution’s FAA (Financial Aid Administrator) the authority to use professional judgment to adjust, on a case-by-case basis, the cost of attendance or the values of the items used in calculating the EFC to reflect a student’s special or unusual circumstances. In making case-by-case determinations, the FAA must obtain and retain in the affected student’s file documents supporting and substantiating the reasons for any adjustment.

To be eligible for a Special Circumstance or Unusual Circumstance Appeal, you must be admitted to Grand View in a degree-seeking program and have filed a FAFSA. If you are selected for verification, this process must be completed before a Special Circumstance can be considered.

Common Reasons to Submit a Special or Unusual Circumstance:

Special Circumstance: Income Reduction Appeal

Special Circumstances refer to financial situations (loss of a job, etc.) that justify an aid administrator adjusting data elements in the cost of attendance (COA) or in the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation.

  • Substantial change in income
  • Unusually high medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance
  • Divorce or Separation
  • Disability of spouse or parent
  • Death of a parent or spouse
  • Loss of child support or alimony
  • Elementary and Secondary Education Tuition/Expenses
  • Natural disaster affecting the home in which you live (e.g. fire, flood, etc.)
  • Unusual or unexpected farm expenses (e.g. flood, natural disaster)
  • Other reasons

Unusual Circumstance: Independent Status Appeal

Unusual Circumstances refer to the conditions that justify an aid administrator making an adjustment to a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation (e.g., human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abandonment, incarceration), more commonly referred to as a dependency override.

  • Abusive (physically and/or mentally) family environment
  • Abandonment
  • Parents cannot be located/no contact with any parent
  • Other reasons

A student may have both a special circumstance and an unusual circumstance. Financial aid administrators (FAAs) may make adjustments that are appropriate to each student’s situation with appropriate documentation.

Cost of Attendance Adjustments:

  • Change in housing status. For example, you indicated on your FAFSA you are living at home with a parent, but you are now living on or off-campus. This change may impact your cost of attendance and/or your financial aid eligibility (loans).
  • Computer purchase
  • Dependent care (e.g. daycare) expenses
  • Extended Family Support

Circumstances We Do Not Consider:

  • Different university offering more aid
  • Consumer debt, including credit card debt and car payments
  • Parent's inability or unwillingness to borrow Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans
  • Parent refuses to provide financial support for higher education
  • Parent refuses to complete or sign FAFSA

Special Circumstance Appeal Process:

Please complete the appropriate form below and we will follow up via email to let you know what documentation will be required. Read the instructions carefully as not all special circumstances qualify for an adjustment of federal financial aid. Most requests require submission of Federal Tax Return Transcripts or signed federal tax returns and may require additional documentation.

The Department of Education gives financial aid administrators the ability to consider a family's special circumstances in determining financial aid eligibility. All appeals are reviewed in accordance with guidance from the Department of Education and university policy. The Department of Education and Grand View University require you to submit proper documentation for your circumstances.

Following receipt of all forms and documentation needed to make a decision, the Office of Financial Aid will notify students of the outcome of the decision within two weeks.

2023-24 Special Circumstance Request Form

2024-25 Special Circumstance Request Form