Special Circumstance Request

We understand that sometimes your FAFSA does not accurately reflect you or your family’s ability to pay for college. A Special Circumstance Request may result in additional or increased federal grants (Pell/SEOG), state grants (Texas Grant), and/or need-based loans (subsidized loans). Typically, an increase in institutional aid (merit scholarships) is not considered.

Here are some situations that might make you eligible to file a Special Circumstance Request:

  • Prolonged (8 weeks or more) loss of income due to unemployment of your parent (dependent students only)
  • Prolonged (8 weeks or more) loss of income due to unemployment of you or your spouse (independent students only)
  • Prolonged (8 weeks or more) reduction of income due to a pay cut or reduced hours of your parent (dependent students only) or of you or your spouse (independent students only)
  • The death of a parent or spouse
  • A separation or divorce after the FAFSA was filed
  • Conversion of a regular IRA into a Roth IRA by transferring funds
  • A one-time (non-recurring) type of income that was reflected on the FAFSA
  • Out-of-pocket medical expenses

If any of the criteria above apply to you, we encourage you to reach out to us. You should only file an appeal after one of these situations has occurred. Appeals based on future projections or anticipated events will be denied.

Note: If the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculated from the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is zero, you are not eligible to complete an appeal as you are currently receiving the maximum amounts in federal, state, and institutional aid for which you qualified. In addition, only undergraduate students are eligible to apply.

In general, the following situations would not be eligible for a Special Circumstance Request:

  • Voluntary home repairs
  • Credit Card debt
  • Bankruptcy
  • Inheritance or lottery winnings
  • Vacation or tithing expenses
  • Standard living expenses (related to utilities, credit card expenses, children’s allowances, etc.)
  • K-12 tuition expenses (exceptions may apply)

How to file a Special Circumstance Request


Please keep in mind:

  • You must have a completed  FAFSA or TASFA application to file this appeal.
  • If you were selected for verification or if you have any other financial aid requirements, those must also be complete before your appeal can be reviewed.
  • You should only file an appeal after one of the situations above has occurred. Appeals based on future projections or anticipated events will be denied.

Steps

  1. Set up a time to talk to us. You can call us at (210) 784-1300 or email us at financial.aid@tamusa.edu. We'll ask you some questions to better understand your situation.
  2. If you are eligible for a Special Circumstance Request, you’ll receive an email notification to  log in to an online platform where you will be asked to upload required documents. For example, you may need to provide a letter of termination from an employer or tax statements/pay stubs showing reduced income (see below for more details). The sooner we receive your documents, the sooner we can move forward in the process. 
  3. If your request is approved, you will be notified via email and an updated financial aid offer should appear in your JagWire portal within two weeks. You may see additional or increased federal grants (Pell/SEOG), state grants (Cal Grant), and/or need-based loans (subsidized loans). Typically, an increase in institutional aid (merit scholarships) is not considered.
  4. If your request is denied, you will be notified via email with a specific reason as to why your request was denied. Please read the email carefully. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us.

Required Documents

If your parent(s) was/were furloughed, terminated, or laid off, you will be asked to submit:

  • A statement thoroughly explaining the circumstances
  • The last two pay stubs
  • A letter from the company indicating they were furloughed/terminated/laid off
  • Documentation showing the amount of unemployment payments your parents are receiving
  • An estimate of the income earned for the current year, including work and unemployment payments
  • (If furloughed) The date when your parent(s) is/are expected to be reemployed at their job, or the date they became reemployed
  • (If terminated/laid off and reemployed at a new job) The date they became reemployed and their most recent pay stub

If your parent(s) was/were  self-employed, you will be asked to submit:

  • A statement thoroughly explaining the circumstances. If your business is cyclical, please mention this (e.g. a flower shop where 30% of revenue occurs during Valentine’s Day)
  • The most recent tax return showing the business’ income
  • An estimate of the projected income for the remaining year, including supporting documentation for these estimates (e.g. Profit and Loss statement).

Dependency Appeal

Most undergraduate students are considered dependent students, even if you don't live with your parents. This means that your parents’ tax information was used to fill out the FAFSA. If you're not sure, the Federal Student Aid website provides a list of criteria to determine if you are a dependent or independent student  for financial aid purposes. We encourage you to review the FAQs about reporting parent information, too.

In some situations, you can ask to be considered independent of your parents for financial aid purposes. Some examples of these extenuating circumstances include: 

  • Your parents are incarcerated.
  • You have left home due to an abusive family environment.
  • You do not know where your parents are and are unable to contact them (and you have not been adopted).
  • You are older than 21 but not yet 24, are unaccompanied, and are either homeless or self-supporting and at risk of being homeless.

If any of the criteria above apply to you, we encourage you to reach out to us. You should only file an appeal after one of these situations has occurred. Appeals based on future projections or anticipated events will be denied.

You must have a completed FAFSA to file this appeal. If you were selected for verification or if you have any other financial aid requirements, those must also be complete before your appeal can be reviewed.

How to file a Dependency Appeal

  1. Set up a time to talk to us. You can call us at (210) 784-1300 or email us at financial.aid@tamusa.edu. We'll ask you some questions to better understand your situation.
  2. If you are eligible for a Dependency Appeal, you’ll receive an email notification to log in to an online platform where you will be asked to upload required documents (see below). The sooner we receive your documents, the sooner we can move forward in the process. 
  3. If your request is approved, you will be notified via email and an updated financial aid offer should appear in your JagWire portal within two weeks. You may see additional or increased federal grants (Pell/SEOG), state grants (Cal Grant), and/or need-based loans (subsidized loans). Typically, an increase in institutional aid is not considered.
  4. If your request is denied, you will be notified via email with a specific reason as to why your request was denied. Please read the email carefully. If you have any questions or concerns, please call us.

Examples of supporting documentation:

  • Legal documentation verifying the reasons for your appeal. This may include, but is not limited to police or court reports, copy of a death certificate, or documentation from a social agency. 
  • Letter from a third-party professional that supports the reasons for your appeal. Letters should be on official letterhead and should explain the situation in detail. Examples of third-party individuals include: social workers, mental or medical health professionals, clergy members, guidance counselors, teacher/instructor, high school administrator or college official, or law enforcement officers. 
  • Letter from an objective party that explains and confirms the reasons for your appeal. The letter should be from someone who has first-hand knowledge of your situation and is able to verify the circumstances you described in your personal statement. An objective party could be a relative, the parent of a friend, neighbor, employer, etc.