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Washington State University
Student Financial Services Special Circumstances Eligibility
Special Circumstances Eligibility

Life Changes that are Eligible for Special Circumstances

Changes in Income due to at least one of the following:
· Loss of employment
· Reduction in pay
· Reduction in hours

The information submitted on the FAFSA/WASFA is a snapshot of income from two years prior, so the 2021-2022 FAFSA/WASFA asks for 2019 income. If there is a loss or change of employment (parents, student, or spouse), then we may review documentation to see if we can recalculate and lower your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Below are examples of acceptable documentation.

  • Letter of explanation that addresses the changes in income with start and end dates.
  • Most recent completed tax returns (2020 or 2021 Tax Returns)
  • Documentation that shows proof of employment loss or change.
    • Letter from former employer
    • Unemployment pay stub
  • Documentation that shows the income that will be earned in the time frame of the appeal.
    • Unemployment pay stub
    • Letters of received assistance
    • Severance/separation income
  • Unemployment benefit approval or denial letter

Divorce or Separation

When there is a divorce or separation between parents of a dependent student or between the student and their spouse, the following documentation must be submitted:

  • Divorce: Legal dissolution of marriage if divorced or legally separated.
  • Separation: Documentation showing two different billing addresses (electric bill, rental agreement, etc)
  • Income documentation that outlines separate wages.
    • W2s
    • Paystubs
    • Documentation of spousal support

Death in the family

When there is a change in income due to the death of a dependent student’s parent or the student’s spouse, the following documentation must be submitted:

  • Proof of death
    • Death certificate
    • Newspaper obituary
    • Death notice
  • Proof of income from the deceased individual
    • W2s
    • Last Pay Stub

Change in Marital Status

In the event your marital status changes after submitting the FAFSA/WASFA application, you may apply to have your dependency status changed from dependent to independent. Our office will recalculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) once the form and documentation have been submitted.

  • Submit a copy of the marriage certificate
  • Provide a copy of you and your spouse’s tax returns
  • Provide a list of members in your family and how many are in college

Medical and Dental Expenses

Medical or dental expenses that have occurred and have been paid for- which were not covered by insurance- may be considered by submitting an appeal. We will review your appeal to see if we can recalculate and lower your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or increase your budget for additional eligible aid.

    • Schedule A from the tax return for your chosen appeal time frame

*Please note: If your EFC is “0”, then you will be considered for a budget increase for an additional loan, if eligible, with the maximum limit of $1,500 after accounting for the Income Protection Allowance (IPA).

Parent in College

The FAFSA/WASFA does not account for a parent attending college. Our office may consider a parent enrolled at least half-time as a degree seeking student for out-of-pocket expenses for tuition, textbooks, and required fees. The parent must be on the FAFSA/WASFA and these expenses must have occurred and been paid. We are unable to make any adjustments if an employer or third party is covering the expenses.

  • Billing or account statement from the institution
  • Submit proof of personal payment
  • Textbook receipts

Private School Expenses

Our office may consider K-12 private school educational expenses for tuition, required fees, uniforms, and books. These expenses must have occurred and been paid for in your chosen appeal time frame.

  • Billing or account statement from the institution
  • Submit proof of personal payment
  • Textbook receipts

Parent Paying on Their Student College Loan

A parent with federal educational loans from their own education may submit documentation to see if we can recalculate your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). We will only consider the parent’s federal Stafford, Direct, or Perkins educational loans and the loans must be in a repayment status. The parent must be on the FAFSA/WASFA and expenses must have occurred and been paid in your chosen appeal time frame.

Loan payments that are made on behalf of a third party will not be considered. Credit card debt, private, or equity loans taken out to pay for educational expenses will not be reviewed.

  • Submit proof of personal payment, payment history or account statement from the loan servicer in the time frame of the appeal
  • Documentation must include the parent’s name, name of loan servicer, type of loan, proof of payment and payment dates.

We are only able to make adjustments for individuals included on your FAFSA/WASFA application and you can only appeal for the academic year in which you are enrolled. WSU will accept one appeal and one time frame for an academic year. We will keep all information and documents confidential unless a signed release is provided by the authorizing party to share information between all parties. Also, if your EFC is already zero, then making any adjustments to your FAFSA/WASFA through this process will not reduce your EFC and therefore would not improve your financial aid award.

You may submit multiple circumstances for review to accommodate all situations. If your family has multiple students attending WSU, each student must file their appeal under their own WSUID number. There are a variety of tools on the internet to convert and merge multiple files and one example is Docs.Zone.


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Special Circumstances
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Contact Us:
specialcircumstances@wsu.edu