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.

Review the guidelines below before submitting the Special Circumstance application. There are separate applications for Dependent students and Independent ​​​​​​​students.

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. 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, 2021 - Some circumstances will require you to submit a 2021 tax return if you apply for Special Circumstance consideration after November 1, 2021
  • April 1, 2022 - The final day to submit the 2021-2022 Special Circumstances application and supporting documents


Expenses student or parent paid in 2020 for private or parochial school

  • 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, 2020 to December 31, 2020

Medical or dental expenses


  • Consideration can be made for medical/dental expenses that were paid in 2020 and not reimbursed by insurance or a third party. Not all expenses will qualify.

Child support payments received have ended or been reduced in 2021​​​​​​​

  • For changes to child support payments you or your parents have/will receive in 2021

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

  • Used to correct parent marital status that was misreported on the FAFSA, or to update parent marital status which changed after the 2021-2022 FAFSA was filed.
  • If a dependent student's parents are divorced or separated but still live together, no adjustment will be made.
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 2019 income and assets may be considered
  • For independent students, if a spouse reported on the FAFSA is deceased, only the student's 2019 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 or 2021 taxed/untaxed income to be significantly less than 2019 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​​​​​​​

  • Expenses are only considered for the calendar year, defined as January 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020
  • Parent must be degree-seeking at an accredited institution and enrolled at least half-time