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Didn’t Get Enough Financial Aid? Ask For A “Change In Circumstances” Form

Last updated June 29, 2020

If you didn’t receive enough financial aid in your financial aid package to cover your tuition and expenses for college - don’t freak out yet. The FAFSA reports income and financial information for you and/or your parents from the prior-prior year - that means, in other words, that colleges are basing your financial aid package on your financial circumstances from two years ago.

A lot can happen in two years! If you're facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, have parent(s) facing job loss, got sick, or faced hardship of any kind that affected your work or finances - gather documentation of the change(s) and report them to your school’s financial aid office by requesting a “Change in Circumstances” form.

What is a Change In Circumstance?

A “Change in Circumstances” form is a formal request for your college’s financial aid office to take a more nuanced look at your real 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.How to request a Change in Circumstance formYou can request a change in circumstances form from your college’s financial aid office. A “Change in Circumstances” form is a formal request process. You will need to:

  1. Set up a virtual appointment or call your financial aid office (they may be closed due to COVID-19. But leave a voicemail - and as soon as they re-open, call again).
  2. Provide documentation that indicates that you or your family underwent notable changes in your financial situation. So, for example, if you or your family were laid off due COVID-19, bring documentation citing that loss of income.
  3. Once/if approved, your financial aid award will be adjusted to reflect your current financial circumstances - i.e. an increase in financial aid.

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 freshmen 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 if COVID-19 has caused hardship.

Need help writing your financial aid appeal letter? Let SwiftStudent do it for you.

SwiftStudent is a new, free digital tool for requesting changes to college financial aid packages. As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, many of the 18.8 million college students who receive financial aid now, or soon will, are experiencing changes to their economic circumstances. SwiftStudent carefully walks users through the financial aid appeal process and produces customized appeal letters. The site features 14 templates for specific types of appeals. And again, it’s free.

Have more questions about financial aid during COVID-19, or in general? Text “Hello” to 33-55-77

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