Special Circumstances

All students are encouraged to apply for financial aid by completing a FAFSA for each school year. The FAFSA results determine eligibility for all different types of financial assistance from federal, state, and institutional programs including grants, scholarships, work study and loans. It is important to understand how eligibility for different types of funding is established. 

The FAFSA determines a student's aid eligibility, however some students and their families have unique or special circumstances related to their finances or dependency status that may require an adjustment to the FAFSA results. 

Financial Circumstances

A student (or their parent(s) or a spouse) may have encountered financial circumstances that are drastically different from the information provided on the FAFSA. For example, the 2022-23 FAFSA uses 2020 tax and income information to determine eligibility. However, in 2021 or 2022 family income may have been reduced due to circumstances such as:

  • unemployment, reduced employment, or job change (especially due to the Covid-19 pandemic)
  • separation or divorce
  • death of a spouse or parent after filing the FAFSA
  • received a one-time non-recurring income (IRA or pension rollover, inheritance, etc.) 

For students who have experienced circumstances that have impacted the ability to pay towards their education, a Financial Aid Review & Adjustment may be able to help. Follow these steps to see if you may qualify for additional financial aid:

  1. Submit your FAFSA - (initial financial aid eligibility must first be determined prior to any potential adjustments)
  2. Complete FA Checklist - Student must receive their Financial Aid Offer, viewable in Self Service for Students
  3. Complete and submit the electronic request form in Student eForms - Special Circumstances Income Change Request (must include supporting documentation)

Note: Students with an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) equal to 0 (zero) are already receiving full grant aid and would not be eligible for an income change review.

Dependency Status Circumstances

Students who are not considered independent according to the FAFSA questions may have unusual circumstances regarding their dependency status that may result in a change to the FAFSA.  

  • Dependency Override
    • An override may only be granted on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual circumstances. You may qualify for a dependency override if you are estranged from your parents due to parental incarceration, family alcoholism, drug abuse, parental abandonment, an abusive family environment that threatens your health or safety, or other unusual circumstances beyond your control.
    • Students in this situation are encouraged to complete and submit the electronic request form in Student eForms - Special Circumstances Dependency Change Request (must include supporting documentation)
    • Contact the Student Services Office at 844.642.2338 ext. 2700 for assistance
  • Homeless Situation
    • Students who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, have options when completing the FAFSA. Please refer to the Federal Student Aid and Homeless Youth Q&A for assistance in determining whether you meet these conditions.

Eligibility for Federal Student Aid (Title IV) and State of Iowa Aid are subject to the following criteria: 

  • Is a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Has a high school diploma, high school equivalency diploma or has completed home schooling at the secondary level
  • Maintains satisfactory academic progress (SAP)
  • Is accepted into a degree/diploma program
  • Possesses a valid Social Security Number
  • Does not owe a refund on a federal grant or is not in default on a federal educational loan