Special Circumstance Guidelines

To the extend allowed by federal regulations, MSU'S Office of Student Financial Aid may consider life changes that occur after the competition of your Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Special circumstances are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with the judgment of the administration serving as the final decision.

Review of any information submitted does not guarantee any change of your financial aid award. As such, you are responsible for your MSU account balance. If your FAFSA is selected for Verification, you must complete this process before your special circumstance will be considered.

Students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of $0 will not be reviewed for a Special Circumstance.

As a guideline, use the table below to determine your particular circumstance. Action will be taken when the Office of Student Financial Aid receives all requested documentation, supporting summaries, and a complete and signed Special Circumstance Worksheet. Place the students BearPass Number on all submitted documents.

Important dates

  • November 1, 2018. If you submit your Special Circumstance form after November 1, 2018, your 2018 federal tax return and 2018 W2’s will be required.
  • March 31, 2019. Special Circumstance forms are accepted from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019 for the 2018-2019 year.


Expenses student or parent paid in 2017 for private or parochial school(s)

For members of student/parent’s household reported on FAFSA (NOT including
parents if Dependent, see option 9) and not reimbursed by scholarships, grants,
employers, etc.

  • Expenses are only considered for non-public elementary and secondary educations (K-12)
  • Expenses are only considered for the calendar year, defined as January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017.

Medical or dental expenses

Must exceed 11% of the 2017 Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) for household members reported on the FAFSA that were not reimbursed by insurance/third party.

  • AGI is the dollar amount listed on a federal tax return; Line 37 on a 1040, Line 21 on a 1040A, or Line 4 on a 1040EZ.
  • Formula to determine expenses: AGI x .11 = Minimum amount of medical expenses to be considered for a special circumstance.
  • For example: If your AGI is $47,000 multiplied by 11%, your medical expenses must exceed $5,170. (47,000 x .11 = $5,170)

Child support payments received have ended or been reduced

A member of your household was receiving child support payments, but the amount received in 2018 is lower than what as reported on the FAFSA

  • Actual child support payments received for the 2018 calendar year will be considered.

Unemployment benefits

  1. Benefit have terminated OR
  2. Received benefits within the last 90 days and are still unemployed
  • Consideration will be given if you are no longer receiving unemployment benefit.
  • Consideration can be made to remove total amount of unemployment benefits reflected on a federal tax return if you have received benefits within the last 90 days.

Student or Parent on FAFSA divorced or separated

After 2018-2019 FAFSA was completed.

  • For dependent Students, if biological or adoptive parents are divorced or separated, and still living together, their status is now unmarried and living together and both would report their information on the FAFSA.  No adjustment will be considered.
Spouse or Parent on FAFSA deceased
  • For dependent students, if a biological or adoptive parent on the FAFSA is deceased, only the surviving parent's 2016 income and assets may be considered
  • For independent students, if a spouse reported on the FAFSA is deceased, only the student's 2016 income and assets may be considered

Loss/Change in Employment

  • Must be continuous for eight (8) or more weeks

Other circumstance

Any circumstance not listed that will cause 2017 taxed/untaxed income to be significantly less than 2016 income reported on the FAFSA.

 Consideration will NOT be given for:
  • Winning/Gambling received
  • Vacation expense
  • Mortgage expense
  • Legal expense
  • Wedding expense
  • Car payments
  • Student loan payments
  • Miscellaneous consumer item expense

Parent attending college

During the 2017 calendar year.

  • Expenses are only considered for the calendar year, defined as January 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017
  • Parent must be degree-seeking and at least half-time

Student Married

After the 2018-2019 FAFSA was completed.

  • Requesting an update to your marital status will automatically select your FAFSA for verification.
  • Summary must describe how your updated marital status reflects more accurately your ability/inability to pay.
  • Considerations will not be made for an already Independent student.