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Special Circumstances

The Student Financial Assistance Office recognizes that some financial aid applicants may have severe extenuating circumstances beyond their control which differentiates them from the majority of students.  Accordingly, there is some flexibility and adjustments can be made to accommodate such students. Financial aid administrators are able to exercise professional judgment on a case-by-case basis to override the student’s dependency status and/or recalculate the student’s eligibility for financial aid. However, this may only be done when the circumstances are extraordinarily unusual and they can be thoroughly documented.

Submitting an appeal for special circumstances does not guarantee that it will be approved, or additional financial aid will be granted. Your appeal must be received in time for it to be reviewed and approved or denied while you are still enrolled for the academic year.  Therefore, it is recommended that you submit your request at least 30 days prior to your last day of enrollment for the current academic year. You will need to allow 2 to 4 weeks processing time for appeals.


  • You will need to provide adequate proof for your appeal.
  • The decision by the Office of Student Financial Assistance is final and cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.
  • The FAFSA must be filed annually and the process of exercising professional judgment must be done on an annual basis, excluding dependency status. To make exception for subsequent academic years, the student must have the same circumstances and go through the appeal process on an annual basis.

There are three types of appeals that will be considered for adjustment.  Click the drop down for additional information on each appeal.

The Office of Student Financial Assistance uses an estimated Cost of Attendance (COA) budget, which reflects an estimate of the total amount it should cost a student to attend Marshall University – usually expressed as an annual figure, which includes average costs for tuition, fees, books, supplies, housing, food, personal and transportation.

Students who believe their estimated COA doesn’t reflect their actual educational expenses for the academic year may submit a Cost of Attendance Appeal Form. Complete and submit the 2023-2024 Student Cost of Attendance Budget Adjustment for reconsideration of the 2023-24 COA. Over-load credit hours, additional fees, dependent care, study abroad expenses, special equipment, and other types of non-standard educational costs (car repair, medical expenses not covered by insurance) are examples of additional expenses that may be added to your COA. You may find the link to the Cost of Attendance Appeal Form by visiting www.marshall.edu/sfa and clicking on the Forms & Applications tab.

The income you reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an essential factor used in determining your financial need assessment. If your family has special circumstances that may affect the amount you and your parents are expected to contribute toward your education, you may appeal.  Special circumstances that may warrant reconsideration include, but are not limited to:

  • A recent change in the household due to separation, divorce, or death
  • Student, spouse, or parent recently became unemployed
  • Reduction or complete loss of untaxed income such as social security benefits, child support
  • Complete loss of unemployment compensation
  • Conversion of a regular IRA into a Roth IRA by transferring funds
  • Extraordinary or excessive medical or dental expenses that exceed 11% of AGI
  • Parents of a dependent student enrolled in college
  • Unusually high child or dependent care costs

To appeal for any of the circumstances listed above, you must complete an Appeal for Reduction in Income. The 2023-24 Appeal for Reduction in Income Form is for consideration of an adjustment to the 2023-24 EFC. You may also find the link to the  Appeal for Reduction in Income Form by visiting www.marshall.edu/sfa and clicking on the Forms & Applications tab. You will need to submit a detailed account of the change in circumstances and attach supporting documentation.

Income and asset information for your parents is required for dependent students.  However, exceptions (or a dependency override) may be made on a case-by-case basis. Federal law provides that, under very limited special circumstances, you may submit your FAFSA without parental information. If you have special circumstances and are unable to provide parental information, FAFSA on the Web will instruct you on how to proceed. In addition, to request an exception to the dependency rules, you must submit an Appeal for Independent Status Form to the Office of Student Financial Assistance for consideration and approval. You may find the link to the 2023-24 Appeal for Independent Status Form by visiting www.marshall.edu/sfa and clicking on the Forms & Applications tab. The following are examples of allowable special circumstances for a dependency override:

  • Your parents are incarcerated; or
  • You have left home due to an abusive family environment; or
  • You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted)

The circumstances listed below do not qualify as “unusual and special circumstances” and do not merit a dependency override:

  • Your parents do not want to provide their information on your FAFSA; or
  • Your parents refuse to contribute to your college expenses; or
  • Your parents do not claim you as a dependent on their income taxes; or
  • You do not live with your parents and demonstrate total self-sufficiency.