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How Change in Circumstances Forms Work

Last updated December 12, 2022

If you didn’t receive enough money in your financial aid package to cover your tuition and other expenses for college, don’t panic! Many schools offer a “Change in Circumstances” form that students can fill out, which allows them to formally request more financial aid. Whether you’re starting college in the fall or are a returning college student, you can request a Change in Circumstances form from your school’s financial aid office. Here’s what you need to know about Change in Circumstances forms - like what their purpose is, how to complete them, and more.

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What does change in circumstances mean?

If you or your family have experienced a change in your financial situation - such as job loss, income reduction, change in marital status, or unexpected medical expenses - you can fill out a change in circumstances form and submit it to your school’s financial aid office. Depending on your school, the form may go by a different name, such as “Special condition/Income Adjustment Form” or “Change to Your Award Request.” If you provide documentation to your school’s financial aid office that shows that 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

Here are the steps to filling out a change in circumstances form.

  1. Set up an appointment or call your financial aid office.
  2. Provide documentation that indicates that you or your family underwent notable changes in your financial situation recently. Some examples of that includes:
    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. Once/if approved, your financial aid award will be adjusted to reflect your current financial circumstances - i.e. an increase in financial aid.

Changes to your family situation

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 & 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 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 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

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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