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How Change in Circumstances Forms Work

Last updated August 17, 2023

How Change in Circumstances Forms Work

Didn’t receive enough money in your financial aid package to cover your tuition and other expenses for college? Don’t panic! If you or your family’s financial situation changed significantly from what you reported on your FAFSA, you may be eligible to receive additional aid by filling out a “Change in Circumstances” form.

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What is a “Change in Circumstances” form?

Many colleges offer a “Change in Circumstances” form through their financial aid office, which allows you to formally request more financial aid. Depending on your school, the form may go by a different name, such as “Special condition/Income Adjustment Form”, “Change to Your Award Request”, or “Change of Circumstances Appeal.”

What is a change in financial circumstances?

A change in your or your family’s financial circumstances can include (but is not limited to) a job loss, income reduction, change in marital or dependency status, unexpected medical expenses, and more. If you provide documentation to your school’s financial aid office that shows your family underwent notable changes in their financial situation during the past two years, your financial aid award could be adjusted to reflect your current financial circumstances - possibly increasing your aid.

How to fill out a change in circumstances form

While the change in circumstances form can differ depending on your college, here is what the process typically looks like:

  1. Call your college’s financial aid office to request a Change in Circumstances form and/or set up an appointment with them.
  2. Provide documentation that indicates that you or your family underwent notable changes in your financial situation within the past two years. Some examples of that include:
    1. Signed & dated copy of most recent tax return, including W2(s) and/or 1099(s)
    2. Letter of separation from an employer
    3. Copy of unemployment benefits statement
    4. Recent pay stubs
    5. Proof of change in marital status
  3. Complete the form as instructed by your college. In the instance where your dependency status changes, you may be required to update your FAFSA form.

You may also be required to submit an appeal letter detailing your change in circumstances. Don't know where to start? We recommend using SwiftStudent - a program that helps you write a financial aid appeal letter for free!

Link to Swiftstudent website

What if I don’t have the required documents?

There are some cases in which a student may be unable to provide the financial information of a parent/guardian such as tax returns and pay stubs. Colleges and universities may be able to grant a dependency override, which is usually a longer process and will require submitting supporting documentation. If you are unable to provide your parent/guardian’s financial documents, get in touch with your financial aid office to explain your specific situation. They can support you in the process on how to appeal for a dependency override (dependent to independent).

Dependency overrides are typically available for students with complex familial situations, such as:

  • Those experiencing insecure housing (McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act)
  • Those living in foster care
  • Those who are emancipated minors
  • Those who have estranged relationships with their parent/guardians

What to expect after submitting the form

Depending on the school, the review process for a change in circumstances can take weeks or months. If approved, your financial aid award will be adjusted to reflect your current financial circumstances - i.e. an increase in financial aid.

If your change in circumstances form is denied, talk to a financial aid advisor to see if any adjustments can be made to your existing award. You can also find other forms of financial aid that may be available to you, like scholarships or student loans.

Need some help navigating the financial aid process? We’re here to help! Text #Hello to 33-55-77 to speak with one of our College & Career Advisors!

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