A3200.45 Special Circumstances Contd.

Operating Standard

Type: Administrative
Related Policies: A3200
Linked Procedures:
Related Laws:
Related Standards:
HLC Criterion:



Special Circumstances cases will be considered only at the request of the student and at the discretion of the Director of Financial Aid/Veterans, if the student meets one of the outlined criteria for review, and provides proper documentation. In all such cases, eligibility decisions will be made based upon the particular circumstances of each individual student. All unusual circumstances will be documented in the student’s file, as well as the decision made and the actions taken.

The Coordinator of Financial Aid and Veteran Affairs is designated the Financial Aid Administrator (FAA), and, as such, shall be the individual responsible for determining financial aid eligibility, based upon current Title IV regulations, Shawnee Community College policies and procedures, and required documentation.

No Title IV financial aid disbursements (including federal Pell and FSEOG grants, ISAC MAP grants, and Federal work-study wages) will be approved without a valid Student Aid Report/Institutional Student Information Record on file in the Financial Aid Office.

Once the student initiate a formal request for review by completing a Request for Designation as an Independent Student form or Request for Professional Judgment Consideration form, along with required documentation as detailed on the form or instructed by the FAA, the FAA will begin the individual review.


Dependency Override

Independent Status

The FAA may review the Request for Designation as Independent Student form on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual circumstances.  Dependency Overrides do not carry over from one award year to the next.  The FAA must reaffirm each year that the unusual circumstances persist and an override is still justified.

Documentation is critical to the dependency override process.  The documentation must support, and include the reason for, the decision and should, in almost all cases, originate from a third party with knowledge of the unusual circumstances for the student.

The following are possible special circumstances:

  1. Since applying for financial aid, the student’s only remaining parent has died.

Documentation: Death Certificate

  1. All normal family contact has been terminated between the student and the natural parents.

Documentation: Students written, confidential explanation of family circumstances, signed statement of certification of circumstances by related adult or professional counselor

  1. The student has lived with a family member other than the natural parent, or another responsible adult, for a minimum of one year prior to the beginning of the academic year in question, and has not been supported by the parents during that time. This could be due to unusual circumstances, such as an abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety.

Documentation: Signed statement from the adult or family member that the student has lived with them on a continuous basis for a minimum of one year, and that the adult or other family member, and not the parents, have been supporting the student during this time. – Signed statement corroborating the circumstances by a professional counselor.

  1. The student does not know the specific whereabouts of either natural parent, and/or has not had contact with either natural parent within the past two years, and does not have a legal guardian appointed by the courts.

Documentation: A statement by the student, and another adult family member or professional counselor certifying to the above circumstances.

If the FAA determines that an override is appropriate, the determination must be made and retained with supporting documentation.  However, none of the conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override.

  1. Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.
  2. Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
  3. Parents do not claim the student as dependent for income tax purposes.

Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency (per FSA Handbook).


Professional Judgment

In unusual circumstances, a student’s family base-year income or assets may not accurately reflect the income/assets available to the family for the academic year. The FAA may use Professional Judgement on a case-by-case basis only to adjust the student’s cost of attendance.  Such circumstances might include, but are not necessarily limited to, those listed below. These and other circumstances may be considered by the FAA on an individual basis. If circumstances warrant, appropriate data changes will be submitted to correct the Student Aid Report to adjust the student’s Estimated Family Contribution (EFC).

  1. Medical/dental bills paid during the previous year, or to be paid during the current year.

Documentation: Proof of bills/premiums paid, or an agreement for pay on a regular basis. The FAA will take in account the Income Protection Allowance (IPA) for medical care described in the FSA Handbook.

  1. A recent layoff, job termination, or greatly reduced income due to a plant or business closure or downsizing, where the likelihood of comparable re-employment is poor.

Documentation: Proof of unemployment or reduced hours.

  1. Termination or reduction of employee hours in order to attend classes on a full-time basis as required by the student’s program of study.

Documentation: Proof of unemployment or reduced hours, and participation in a curriculum requiring full-time attendance.

  1. Loss of Social Security benefits to a family for the student who has attained 18 years of age but will be a full-time college student.

Documentation: Notice of termination of benefits from Social Security.

  1. Loss of other benefits received on a regular basis, such as child support.

Documentation: Notification of termination of other benefits.

  1. A one-time payment of income or benefits in the previous year that will not be repeated in the current year, such as an IRA.

Documentation: Proof of one-time payment or cessation of payments.

  1. Divorce, separation, death or disability of a family member.

Documentation: Divorce decree, Death Certificate, statement certifying separation, physician’s statement of disability.

  1. A student or supporting parent/guardian has been the victim of a natural disaster (tornado, flood, fire, etc.) during the past or current year that has reduced available assets or income upon which eligibility was based.

If other circumstances exist, the student must contact the FAA for them to possibly be considered.


Change Log
Date Description of Change Governance Unit