Washington State University

Student Financial Services

Special Circumstances—Unique Family Considerations

At WSU, we recognize that circumstances for families can be unusual and/or change unexpectedly and this often causes financial challenges for a student seeking a college education. We are here to help when you are faced with these situations. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a wonderful tool used to estimate a family's ability to pay for their student's education. However, we are well aware that there are unique situations when last year's tax information may not always provide an accurate picture of a family's financial situation. We also know that our student population is diverse and they have many different needs.

To address these situations in regards to financial aid, Student Financial Services has a process in place which allows a student to address their family's special circumstance and/or outline their additional financial requirements. This process is called a Special Circumstance Appeal. If you have any questions regarding the Special Circumstance Appeal process or the information outlined below, please don't hesitate to reach out to us so we can clarify and/or provide additional guidance if needed.

Summer 2014

2014 Summer Special Circumstance Appeals can be completed by clicking here. Please then select the form that corresponds to your personal situation that you'd like reviewed by our office. The last day to submit a Summer Special Circumstance Appeal is July 25.

Situations that Qualify for Review

The Special Circumstance Appeal—What Situations Qualify

The federal government allows Washington State University to use professional judgment in certain situations to reevaluate a student's financial aid award when the student (and/or a family member) documents their special or extenuating circumstance. The following personal situations listed below are circumstances that can be reviewed for possible re-evaluation of a student's financial aid eligibility. Please note: in order for our office to review a Special Circumstance Appeal, a student will need to have received a 2014-15 Financial Aid Award (not an estimate). We recommend waiting until you have this Award before submitting an appeal:

Change in Income

  • If income reported on the FAFSA is higher than what will be received during the academic year due to a loss or change in employment, divorce or separation, unusually high income originally reported on the FAFSA (like an inheritance), garnishment of wages due to bankruptcy, a death in the family, or disability of an income producing family member - our office can recalculate a student's expected family contribution (EFC) once the form and documentation has been submitted. The EFC is the index number, calculated by the FAFSA which our office uses to determine how a financial aid award may be adjusted. If the EFC is reduced to such a level that more aid is warranted, the financial aid award will be adjusted. 

Medical and Dental Expenses 

  • In the event a student is packaged to their cost of attendance with financial aid, a medical/ dental appeal can be submitted to increase a student's budget so that more aid may be awarded to help with these expenses. The government assumes that a certain percentage of the student/family's budget will be spent on medical and dental expenses. If the sums of the out-of-pocket medical and dental expenses are above and beyond the figure the government sets for the family and /or student, we can reevaluate the student's expected family contribution (EFC).

Parent in College

  • While the FAFSA covers many expenses a family might have, the cost of a parent attending college is not included. In the event that a parent has excessive educational expenses, we can recalculate the student's expected family contribution (EFC) once the form and documentation have been submitted. We can only consider expenses that the parent is paying themselves; if an employer is covering the cost of the education, we are unable to make adjustments.

Private School Tuition

  • Student Financial Services at Washington State University considers a family having K-12 private school educational expenses a valid reason for re-evaluating a student's financial aid eligibility. In the event that a family has excessive educational expenses, we can recalculate the student's expected family contribution (EFC) once the form and documentation has been submitted. 

Student Loan in Repayment

  • In the event that a family has excessive educational loan expenses, we can recalculate the student's expected family contribution (EFC) once the form and documentation has been submitted. Loan payments that are made on behalf of a third party cannot be considered. Also, the loans must be educational; credit card debt and/or equity loans taken out to pay for educational expenses cannot be considered.
Additional Details to Consider

Additional Details to Consider

The following information will provide you more guidance on whether you should submit a Special Circumstance Appeal and determine if your personal situation is eligible for financial aid readjustment. Please review before submitting an appeal.  If you have any questions about the Special Circumstance Appeal process, please email specialcircumstances@wsu.edu. You may click here to access the Special Circumstance Appeal form if you believe your situation warrants the submisison of an appeal. Thank you.

  1. To submit a Special Circumstance Appeal, you need to have received a 2014-15 Actual Financial Aid Award. If you are still in the verification (file review) process, then we don't recommend submitting an appeal to our office until you have been notified that a 2014-15 Financial Aid Award has been created for you. Then, proceed to submit the appeal if applicable.
  2. Please do not automatically submit an appeal without reviewing the reasons published on our website to be sure you have a valid, reviewable circumstance that warrants an appeal submission. There are only certain personal situations that our office can consider for review. For example, loss of overtime, bonus income, and/or credit card debt are situations we cannot consider for review. Please click here for more information about circumstances we can considerfor review. 
  3. If you have an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of “0”, you should not submit an appeal. There is nothing further that can be done to lower your EFC and provide you additional financial aid. We recommend talking with an advisor in our office for guidance about what other college education funding options are available.
  4. Please realize that even if you do submit a Special Circumstance Appeal, sometimes lowering a student’s EFC and receiving an appeal approval doesn't necessarily translate into more financial aid funding for the student. This could happen if your situation does not reduce (lower) your EFC enough to be within new funding eligibility levels for certain aid programs (Pell Grant, Washington State Need Grant, Subsidized Federal Loan, etc. ). 
  5. Because of the nature of these types of appeals, doing a thorough review often takes more time than other processes in our operation. We ask for your patience and understanding while we give your submission our fullest attention. It may take up to eight weeks for the review to be completed. You will receive an email when the review has been done.
  6. A Special Circumstance Appeal submission is not a guarantee of automatic approval and/or additional financial aid. Please continue to process your financial aid award that you have already received from our office. This is important to do to be sure the financial aid you currently have is ready for you at the start of the semester. This means you should continue with the financial aid you have been offered. You will not be penalized for accepting loans that are offered to you if you later decide to cancel them. We will be able to adjust your aid if your appeal is approved if you become eligible for more favorable forms of aid like grants. University charges are due at the beginning of the term regardless of pending special circumstance reviews.
  7. The form and worksheet must be submitted online, we can not accept printed copies.
General Information to Know When Submitting a Special Circumstance Appeal

General Information to Know When Submitting a Special Circumstance Appeal

We ask for your patience and understanding while we give your submission our utmost attention during the review process. It may take up to eight weeks to complete the review. We will send you an email notice when we are done and have more information to share with you. Click here to submit a Special Circumstance Appeal.

  1. The Special Circumstance Appeal form can be found under “Forms”. Select the appropriate semester term tab to find the form. Please realize this is a “smart” form and it will not let you submit the appeal unless all information and relevant documentation has been filled out and included. Be thorough and complete in answering all questions on the form and providing all requested documentation. This will prevent processing delays when it’s reviewed by our staff.
  2. Please be aware it can take some time to submit this type of appeal because of the information and documents being asked for, so plan accordingly. We suggest you review the appeal form initially, download the worksheet(s) on your own computer to fill out and save, and then collect the information required to submit the appeal. Once you have your documentation collected and ready to submit, return to the online form on our website to fill it out. Proceed to attach your worksheet(s) and relevant documentation where prompted and then hit submit. 
  3. Multiple Special Circumstance situations can be reviewed by our office for one student/family and the online form will accommodate such situations. NOTE: parents who were never married but live together are treated as married for financial aid purposes according to the U.S. Department of Education regulations.
  4. Please realize our office often needs to request very personal, financial documents to review your Special Circumstance Appeal situation. All information is kept confidential, unless a signed release is provided authorizing the sharing of information between all parties.
  5. We do appreciate your cooperation in providing what information we need right away, because an incomplete appeal form will cause a processing delay for you. 
  6. Sometimes, after starting an appeal review, our office staff will need more information to complete the review. In these situations, we will email you to request the additional document(s). Please respond quickly to our request so we can expedite the processing of your appeal in a timely manner.
  7. We recognize that you might have multiple files to submit to your appeal. They can be converted and merged into one document for attachment, using a variety of tools offered free on the internet. One such tool is http://pdfburger.com/.

**As always, be careful not to install unnecessary software on your computer and be wary of potential virus-causing links.
Disclaimer: Washington State UNIVERSITY MAKES NO WARRANTY THAT THE SERVICE WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS, OR THAT THE SERVICE WILL BE SECURE, TIMELY, UNINTERRUPTED, OR ERROR FREE; NOR DOES WSU Student Financial Services  MAKE ANY WARRANTY AS TO THE RESULTS THAT MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE USE OF THE SERVICE OR AS TO THE ACCURACY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED THROUGH THE SERVICE OR THAT DEFECTS IN THE SOFTWARE WILL BE CORRECTED.  Links from finaid.wsu.edu to third-party sites do not constitute an endorsement by WSU of the parties or their products and services. The appearance on the Web site of advertisements and product or service information does not constitute an endorsement by WSU, and WSU has not investigated the claims made by any advertiser.  By using this link you are now being redirected to a website outside of the wsu.edu website and entering a site hosted by another party.  WSU is not responsible for the content or availability of the linked website.  Use of this site is at your own risk.  Your files are stored on PDFBurger.com servers for a maximum of 24 hours and permanently deleted afterwards. Please be sure to read Terms & Privacy Statement located on PDFBURGER.COM WEBSITE.

For Help and Questions

For general questions about Special Circumstances Considerations and/or a status update in regards to your submitted appeal, please email specialcircumstances@wsu.edu. In general, we will respond to your email within three business days during non-peak semester periods. We thank you for your patience.

While you always have the option of calling Student Financial Services office at 509-335-9711 for an update or dropping by your local campus for assistance, it is most expedient to email specialcircumstances@wsu.edu for information. Because of the nature of these appeals, our general office staff likely will not have or know specific details about your appeal, so sending an email to this special address is the most efficient and effective way for us to respond to you properly and promptly.

We recognize that you might have multiple files to submit to your appeal. They can be converted and merged into one document for attachment, using a variety of tools offered free on the internet. One such tool is http://pdfburger.com/.

**As always, be careful not to install unnecessary software on your computer and be wary of potential virus-causing links.
Disclaimer: Washington State UNIVERSITY MAKES NO WARRANTY THAT THE SERVICE WILL MEET YOUR REQUIREMENTS, OR THAT THE SERVICE WILL BE SECURE, TIMELY, UNINTERRUPTED, OR ERROR FREE; NOR DOES WSU Student Financial Services MAKE ANY WARRANTY AS TO THE RESULTS THAT MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE USE OF THE SERVICE OR AS TO THE ACCURACY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED THROUGH THE SERVICE OR THAT DEFECTS IN THE SOFTWARE WILL BE CORRECTED. Links from finaid.wsu.edu to third-party sites do not constitute an endorsement by WSU of the parties or their products and services. The appearance on the Web site of advertisements and product or service information does not constitute an endorsement by WSU, and WSU has not investigated the claims made by any advertiser. By using this link you are now being redirected to a website outside of the wsu.edu website and entering a site hosted by another party. WSU is not responsible for the content or availability of the linked website. Use of this site is at your own risk. Your files are stored on PDFBurger.com servers for a maximum of 24 hours and permanently deleted afterwards. Please be sure to read Terms & Privacy Statement located on PDFBURGER.COM WEBSITE.

The 2014-2015 Special Circumstance Appeal Worksheets

The form and worksheet must be submitted online, we can not accept printed copies.

Projected Income Worksheet
Itemized Receipt Worksheet

Announcements

  

Office Hours:
8:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
Monday-Friday


Student Financial Services, Lighty Building Room 380, Washington State University, PO Box 641068, Pullman WA 99164-1068, 509-335-9711.