Special Circumstances

We recognize that the past year has caused a great deal of upheaval to occur in many households. We hope in reviewing your financial aid awards, you feel that a Bellarmine education is affordable and within your family’s means. However, we understand that the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) does not provide families with a place to explain special circumstances affecting their ability to pay for the student’s education.

To remedy this, Congress has delegated our financial aid administrators the authority to compensate for special circumstances on a case-by-case basis with adequate documentation. If your FAFSA no longer accurately reflects your or your family’s financial situation please tell us a little more about your situation by completing the special circumstance form.

Upon receipt of this form, a financial aid administrator can evaluate your family’s situation and determine the need for appropriate adjustments. These changes may - or may not - impact your financial aid.

The following conditions may be considered:

  • Loss or reduction of income including but not limited to loss of employment, reduction of pay, death of a parent or spouse, and reduction/loss of child support 
  • Divorce or separation
  • Non-recurring income
  • High medical and/or dental expenses paid out of pocket

The following conditions generally may not be considered:

  • Information on the FAFSA resulted in a 0 Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Bankruptcy, foreclosures or collection costs associated with outstanding debts
  • Consumer debt (credit cards, car payments, loans, etc.)
  • Payments on back taxes owed to the IRS
  • Lottery or gambling winnings or losses
  • One-time income used for non-life essential items (e.g. family vacation)

Next Steps:

  1. Complete and submit Special Circumstance Request Form
  2. A financial aid administrator will review your request and will be in contact regarding your status and/or next steps.
  3. If your request is approved, the financial aid administrator will send you a Special Circumstance Form to complete and return along with supporting documentation. For suggested documentation, please see below:

Suggested Documentation for the Special Circumstance Request

With any professional judgment the individual appealing must submit sufficient third-party documentation to support the reason(s) for the request as well as to strengthen their appeal. If sufficient documentation is not initially submitted, it may be requested after the appeal is received (delaying the review process). Please see below for examples of documentation based on the reason for the appeal.

Loss of Employment or Reduction of Pay

  • Last paystub with year-to-date income
  • Letter of separation from employer (for loss of employment)
  • Letter of offer of employment from new employer (for reduction of income)
  • Copy of most recent Tax Return 
  • Most recent W-2s

Death of a Parent or Spouse

  • Copy of death certificate or obituary of parent or spouse
  • Copy of most recent pay stub or W-2 of surviving parent
  • Copy of most recent pay stub or W-2 for student if independent

Reduction or Loss of Child Support

Court documentation supporting reduction or loss of child support or documentation of benefits that you may be able to obtain online from your state showing:

  • Benefit amount of the child support
  • Start and stop dates
  • If you are owed any past child support payments
  • Total past due amount owed to you.

Divorce or Separation

  • Legal separation papers, copy of divorce decree, letter from your attorney, or separate lease/rental agreements
  • Copy of most recent pay stub or W-2 for the student or parent granted custody

Non-recurring Income

  • 1099 tax forms or documentation of one-time income
  • Documentation to confirm what the income was used for

High Medical and/or Dental Expenses Paid Out of Pocket

  • Schedule A if you completed Schedule A with your 1040 tax return
  • Receipts that show payments you made out-of-pocket for healthcare expenses if you did not complete Schedule A
  • Submit the same documents listed above in relation to loss or reduction of income

Possible Outcomes of a Special Circumstance Request

  • No change: The change in circumstances did not impact your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or financial aid.
  • Reduced EFC but no change in financial aid offer: The change in circumstances reduced the EFC but did not change it enough to impact your financial aid eligibility.
  • Reduced EFC and adjustments made to federal loans: The change in circumstances reduced the EFC and qualified you for some subsidized loan funding to replace the equivalent unsubsidized loan funding.
  • Reduced EFC and adjustments made to state and/or federal grants: The change in circumstances reduced the EFC and qualified you for additional state and/or federal grants.