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Change in Financial Circumstances Appeal Form: How Does it Work?

Last updated July 22, 2024

If your family’s financial circumstances have changed since you received your financial aid award letter from your college, resulting in a need for more aid, you may be eligible to complete a change in financial circumstances appeal form. But what does change in circumstances mean and how does this form work? We break it down!

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What is a change in financial circumstances appeal form?

Many college financial aid offices offer a change in financial circumstances form, which allows you to formally request that your school takes a deeper look at your family’s current financial situation by submitting supporting documentation. 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.” Many schools have the form or outline the process on their financial aid website. 

What do I do if I know my financial situation has changed while I wait for my award letter?

If you know that your families’ financial situation has changed drastically since 2022 (the tax year 2024-25 form uses), start to look at your schools’ financial aid websites to see their appeals process. Each school will have their own process but you may be able to submit something along with documentation while you wait for the FAFSA Submission Summary to become available. 

What is a change in financial circumstances?

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

List of changes that qualify students to complete a FAFSA change in financial circumstances appeal form - Change in Financial Circumstances Appeal Form: How Does it Work?

How to complete a change in financial circumstances appeal form

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

  1. Contact 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 your family’s financial situation underwent notable changes in the past two years. Some examples of that include:

    • Signed and dated copy of their most recent tax return, including W2(s) and/or 1099(s).

    • Letter of separation from an employer.

    • Copy of an unemployment benefits statement.

    • Recent pay stubs.

    • 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.

You may also be required to submit an appeal letter detailing your change in financial circumstances. We recommend using SwiftStudent to help– a program that helps you write a financial aid appeal letter for free.

What if I don’t have the required documentation?

There are some cases in which a student may be unable to provide the financial information of a parent or guardian. Colleges may be able to grant a dependency override, which is usually a longer process and will require submitting more supporting documentation. If you are unable to provide your parent or guardian’s financial documents, get in touch with your financial aid office to explain your specific situation. They can support you through the process of appealing for a dependency override, which means that you may be considered an “independent” student rather than a “dependent” one.

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 parents or guardians.

What to expect after submitting the form

Depending on the school, the review process for a change in financial circumstances can take weeks or months. If approved, your financial aid award will be adjusted to reflect your current financial circumstances. Keep in mind financial aid offices are trying to ensure all admitted students have their financial aid packages so have patience as you wait to hear back.

If your change in financial circumstances appeal 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, such as scholarships or student loans.

Need some help navigating the financial aid process? We’re here to help! Text #FAFSA to 33-55-77 to chat with one of our advisors. If you're using a mobile device, click here to have the text message set up for you!

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