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Appeals for Reconsideration: Changing the FAFSA/Special Circumstances

Financial aid eligibility is calculated based on the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Income and asset information is evaluated using a formula called Federal Methodology as set by Congress. The formula assumes that previous year's income, assets, and family size are good predictors of a family's financial strength. Based on this assumption, financial aid eligibility is determined using previous year income information. However, the Department of Education gives the Office of Financial Aid the authority to use Professional Judgment on a case by case basis to adjust elements in the federal need analysis to take into consideration a family's special circumstances.

Changing Data Elements on the FAFSA

The financial aid administrator (Director), using professional judgment, can adjust one or more of the data elements used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The Adjustment must be based on a student's individual circumstances and must be documented in the student's file. A Special Circumstances Form along with supporting documentation will need to be submitted. Methodist University uses professional judgment in cases of divorce or separation, death, loss of a job, excessive medical expenses and granting independent status to an otherwise dependent student (by the federal government's definition) which is listed below. Documentation required may include but is not limited to, letters with proper signatures, bank statements, insurance letters, federal tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, death certificates, divorce, or separation decrees, court documents, police records, or documentation from Social Services . The Office of Financial Aid has forms for dependent and independent students to complete for a request for data element changes.

The Director of Financial Aid will consider Appeals for Reconsideration only in the following cases, and only when the supporting documents listed below are submitted along with the Special Circumstances Form to the Office of Financial Aid:

Loss of Employment

  • A letter from the employer on company letterhead detailing the employee's termination/ separation date, the reason for the separation, and amount of benefits they received.
  • A copy of the employee's year-to-date pay stub.
  • A denial of benefits letter from the employee's local Department of Labor.
  • A completed Estimated Income Form and copy of your most recent Federal Tax Return.

    Note: Unemployment must be for at least ten weeks before an Appeal will be considered.

Reduction in Employment

  • A letter from the employer on company letterhead providing details regarding the employee's reduction of income, the date the reduction began, and reason for the reduction.
  • A copy of the employee's year-to-date pay stub.
  • A completed Estimated Income Form and copy of your most recent Federal Tax Return.

    Note: Unemployment must be for at least ten weeks before an Appeal will be considered.

Loss of Untaxed Income or Benefits

  • A copy of a letter from the appropriate state or federal agency that specifies the employee's termination date and the amount of benefits they received, such as Social Security Benefits, Worker Compensation, etc.
  • A benefits schedule.
  • A copy of the court order that specifies the income or benefits termination date and the amount of child support that will be received.

Reduced Untaxed Income or Benefits

  • A copy of a letter from the appropriate state or federal agency that specifies the date that income or benefits were reduced.

Divorce or Separation

  • A copy of the divorce decree or separation agreement (preferably from a lawyer). If not legally separated, a notarized statement of separation is needed, which must include the date of separation and any monetary support either received or paid (i.e. spousal support, child support).
  • Documentation indicating that the divorced or separated parties have been living separately and have incurred their own living expenses (i.e., utility bills, lease, etc.).

Excessive Medical and Dental Expenses

  • A copy of the appropriate most recent federal tax return with schedule A.
  • Medical or dental expense documents that indicate the amount not covered by insurance.

Death of Parent or Spouse

  • A copy of the death certificate or obituary.

Child Care for Dependent Children

  • A signed statement on agency letterhead from the childcare provider, stating the total cost of child care for a twelve-month period.

Roth IRA Contribution

  • A copy of the appropriate income tax return showing that an IRA was distributed.
  • A copy of IRS form 1099R indicating that a standard IRA was converted to a Roth IRA.

Disabled Student Expenses

  • A document from a physician or an appropriate agency specifying the individual's disability.
  • Expense documents, including receipts and statements regarding provided services
 

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