Special and Unusual Circumstances

Special Circumstances

An aid administrator may use personal judgement on a case-by-case basis to adjust the student’s cost of attendance or the data used to calculate their Student Aid Index (SAI). This adjustment is valid only at the school making the change.

The law gives some examples of special circumstances that MAY be considered (HEA Sec. 479A):

  • Change in employment status, income or assets
  • Change in housing status (e.g., homelessness)
  • Tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school
  • Medical, dental or nursing home expenses not covered by insurance
  • Child or dependent care expenses
  • Severe disability of the student or other member of the student’s household
  • Other changes or adjustments that impact the student’s costs or ability to pay for college

Unusual circumstances include:

  • Human trafficking, as described in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.);
  • Legally granted refugee or asylum status;
  • Parental abandonment or estrangement;
  • Student or parental incarceration.