Didn’t Get Enough Financial Aid? Ask For A “Change In Circumstances” Form
Last updated April 13, 2022
If you didn’t receive enough financial aid in your financial aid package to cover your tuition and expenses for college, don’t panic! The FAFSA reports income and financial information for you and/or your parents from the prior-prior year. That means colleges are basing your financial aid package on your financial circumstances from two years ago.
A lot can happen in two years! If you are facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, have parent/guardian facing job loss, got sick, or faced hardship of any kind that affected your work or finances - you can gather documentation of the change(s) and report them to your school’s financial aid office by requesting a “Change in Circumstances” form. It may go by a different name at your specific college such as “Special condition/Income Adjustment Form” or “Change to Your Award Request.” You can find that information on your college’s financial aid website.
What is a Change In Financial Circumstance?
A “Change in Circumstances” form is a formal request for your college’s financial aid office to take another look at your financial situation. If you provide documentation that indicates that, in the two years the FAFSA does not capture, your family underwent notable changes in their financial situation, your financial aid award could be adjusted to reflect your current financial circumstances - possibly increasing your aid.
The following changes are typical examples that may be considered:
- Job loss
- Income reduction
- Medical expenses
- Change in marital status
How to request a Change in Circumstance form
You can request a "Change in Circumstances" by contacting your college’s financial aid office. A “Change in Circumstances” form is a formal request process. You will need to:
- Set up an appointment or call your financial aid office
- Provide documentation that indicates that you or your family underwent notable changes in your financial situation. Some examples of that include:
- Signed & dated copy of most recent tax return, including W2(s) and/or 1099(s)
- Letter of separation from an employer
- Copy of unemployment benefits statement
- Recent pay stubs
- Proof of change in marital status
- Once/if approved, your financial aid award will be adjusted to reflect your current financial circumstances - i.e. an increase in financial aid.
Keep in mind that the final decision is up to the college/university and typically you cannot appeal to the U.S. Department of Education.
If you’re an incoming college student and have already received your financial aid package, you can also request a change in circumstances form.
Changes in circumstance apply to incoming students just as much as current college students. Follow the same procedure above to have your financial aid package updated to reflect your current financial situation.
Changes to your Family Situation
There are some cases where a student may be unable to provide the financial information of a parent/guardian. College & universities may be able to grant a dependency override. It is usually a longer process and will require submitting supporting documentation. If you are unable to provide your parent/guardian financial documents for FAFSA purposes, get in touch with your high school counselor to explain your specific situation. They can support you in contacting your prospective college’s financial aid office and speak to a counselor/advisor. They will provide the specific process on how to appeal for a dependency override (dependent to independent). Dependency overrides are for complex familial situations and cannot be used as a way to receive more aid. Some common scenarios include:
- Insecure housing (McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act)
- Foster care
- Emancipated minor
- Estranged relationships with parent/guardian
If you cannot provide parent information on the FAFSA, make sure you follow up with your school’s financial aid office after you submit because your application will be considered incomplete!
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Looking for additional ways to pay for college? Apply for scholarships!
Financial aid should always be the first step in getting money to pay for college. We encourage you to also look for and apply for scholarships to help fund your education. You can find up-to-date scholarship lists & other scholarship application resources on our scholarships page!
Have more questions about financial aid during COVID-19, or in general? Text “Hello” to 33-55-77