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Special Financial Aid Circumstances

To apply for federal student loans or need-based federal and state aid, students must submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA process determines each student or family's financial need based on their prior year income and benefits.

Federal aid regulations allow the AACC Financial Aid Office to make adjustments for certain financial situations that can not be taken into account on the Free Application of Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). We consider each situation on a case-by-case basis and the regulations limit which situations we can consider and how we make adjustments. Common special circumstances include, but are not limited to: unemployment, decreased annual income, and divorce or separation. The regulations do not allow us to consider high mortgage payments, car payments, or consumer debt.

Please note the special circumstances process is based on several assumptions:  

  • First, we will only begin the adjustment process if we think it will help increase your financial aid awards. It is not an appeal for additional aid. It is a request to recalculate financial need based on new or additional financial data.
  • Second, without special circumstance adjustments, the standard FAFSA process collects data on your income last year and assumes that your income for the next year will be similar. If your income for the new tax year will be significantly lower than your income for the prior tax year, you might be eligible for adjustments. Please note adjustments will always be based on projected gross income for an entire year. 
  • Third, we must extensively document any adjustments with check stubs, termination notices, copies of unemployment benefits, etc. We can not make any adjustments until we receive all requested documents.  
  • Fourth, income reduction must be documented for a minimum 6 month period. 

In addition to adjustments for reduced income, we may be able to make adjustments for other special financial situations. If you think you have eligible special circumstances, call or visit our office to discuss your situation. If we think you might benefit from adjustments, we will give you a Special Circumstances Form. Please carefully document your situation. The form outlines the required documents. We cannot make any adjustments until we receive all requested documentation. Once the adjustment process is complete, we will notify you of the outcome. You may or may not qualify for additional aid.  

If you have questions about why the FAFSA form requires parent data from some students, please see Dependency Status