Special Circumstance Guidelines

MSU'S Office of Student Financial Aid aims to address all students' financial needs. To the extent allowed we will consider life changes which render the information on your Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) inaccurate (e.g., a recent and significant loss of income). Special circumstances are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, with the judgment of the administration serving as the final decision.

Submitting a Special Circumstance application does not guarantee any change of your financial aid award. Because of this, 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 may not submit a Special Circumstance application, as no aid increases can be made.

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. To help with processing, please write the students BearPass Number on all submitted documents.

Important dates

  • November 1, 2020.
    If you submit your 2020-2021 Special Circumstance form after November 1, 2020, your 2021 federal tax return and 2020 W-2’s will be required.
  • March 31, 2021.
    2020-2021 Special Circumstance forms are accepted between April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021.


Expenses student or parent paid in 2019 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, 2019 to December 31, 2019.

Medical or dental expenses

Must exceed 11% of the 2019 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 Line 7 the 2019 federal tax return.
  • The formula to determine minimum medical expenses is: AGI (line 7) x .11. For example: If your AGI is $47,000, 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 2020 is lower than what as reported on the FAFSA

  • Actual child support payments received for the 2020 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 2020-2021 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 2018 income and assets may be considered
  • For independent students, if a spouse reported on the FAFSA is deceased, only the student's 2018 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 2020 taxed/untaxed income to be significantly less than 2018 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 attended college

During the 2019 calendar year.

  • Expenses are only considered for the calendar year, defined as January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019
  • Parent must be degree-seeking and at least half-time