Special Circumstances Guidance

Special circumstances can directly impact a family's ability to pay for college. If the information provided on your FAFSA has changed, you may submit a Request for Special Circumstances form and provide supporting documentation. 

If the request is approved, financial aid eligibility is re-evaluated for federal need-based aid. Note: this does not change New York State financial aid eligibility or institutional scholarships.

Examples of special circumstances include:

  • Significant loss of employment or income.
  • Legal separation or divorce.
  • Death of a parent or spouse.
  • Substantial medical or dental expenses paid that were not covered by insurance.
  • One-time lump sum payment
  • Loss of taxable/untaxable income (i.e., child support, social security, alimony, worker's compensation)

The Office of Financial Aid cannot consider appeals regarding consumer indebtedness, discretionary personal expenses, relocation or consumer debt.

Budget Adjustments

The Office of Financial Aid provides an estimated cost of attendance in your financial aid award notice To see your awards, go to MyGeneseo.edu and click on the Financial Aid Dashboard. Adjustments to the standard cost may be made for the following educational circumstances:

  • Student Abroad programs
  • Additional transportation expenses
  • Childcare expenses

Budget increase requests should be discussed with a financial aid advisor.

Dependency Override

Your dependency status determines whose information you must report on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). A dependent student must report student and parent information on the FAFSA whereas independent students only report student information (and spouse information, if married). Dependent students with unusual circumstances may appeal to the Office of Financial Aid. In situations such as the ones below, you many be considered for a dependency override:

  • You have left home due to an abusive family environment.
  • You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
  • Your parents are incarcerated.
  • You are older than 21 but not yet 24, are unaccompanied, and are either  or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

Dependency override requests should be discussed with a financial aid advisor.

Requesting an Adjustment

2023-24 Academic Year

Students requesting an adjustment due to special circumstances need to complete a Request for Financial Aid Review. Once your initial request has been reviewed, you will be sent the appropriate Request for Special Circumstances form to complete and return with specified documentation. All requests will be reviewed by a financial aid counselor.

All requests must be received and processed by April 15, 2024 or your last date of attendance, whichever comes first.

Important Notes

  • A Special Circumstances Request only applies to federal aid. It cannot be used to change eligibility for state aid programs such as TAP, SUNY Tuition Credit, Excelsior, etc. 
  • Completing a Special Circumstance form does not guarantee that there will be changes to your financial aid package.
  • Submission of a Special Circumstance Request does not exempt your account from the payment due dates, late fees, and hold(s) on your account.
  • Consider accepting your initial financial aid package and ensure your bill is paid on time. If any changes are warranted after your appeal is reviewed and processed, they would be made retroactively to the start of the academic year.
  • If you currently receive an Excelsior Scholarship and qualify for a Federal Pell grant as a result of your Special Circumstance Request, your Excelsior Scholarship will be reduced by the amount of Pell grant funding you receive.  This is due to the fact that the Excelsior Scholarship only covers the balance of tuition after all free grant funding is applied.
  • All decisions regarding such requests are at the discretion of the financial aid staff and cannot be appealed.