Special Circumstances

Special & Unusual Circumstances

Student Financial Services (SFS) understands that students and/or families sometimes experience unforeseen circumstances or expenses during an academic year and their FAFSA may not reflect these changes. This page is designed to help address your need for special consideration of federal financial aid eligibility (not state aid). Please review the steps below to see if a 'Special or Unusual Circumstance' review is right for you.


  • For the 2024-25 academic year, we may consider financial circumstances that occurred in 2022, 2023 and 2024. Limited situations that occur in 2025, as part of the 2024-2025 academic year, may also be considered.
  • We encourage students who may be eligible for a Special or Unusual Circumstance review to submit documentation to Student Financial Services.  The deadline to submit documentation is typically 2 weeks prior to the end of the semester and/or academic year while the student is still attending. Late submissions, submissions near the end of the semester, or missing documentation may not be eligible for review.  

Step 1: Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

Complete and submit the FAFSA for the applicable academic year that you are requesting a review. 

  • Apply online at the Federal Student Aid website.  For more information about applying for aid, visit our 'Apply Now' web page.
  • Be sure to report the income information for the year that FAFSA specifically requests (i.e, the 2024-2025 FAFSA requires 2022 tax/income information).
  • If your FAFSA has already been submitted to SUNY Delhi (using school code '002857'), skip to Step 2.

Step 2: Submit a Signed Statement & Gather Documentation

Before a final determination can be made, students must submit the special or unusual documentation that applies to their situation and all required supporting documentation. 

  1. Provide a signed statement regarding your circumstance. Be specific as possible and include relevant information, dates, amounts, and any changes that help explain the situation. 
  2. Gather supporting documentation based on your situation:
    • Special Circumstance for Financial Adjustment: For situations related to a financial loss or receipt of a one-time payment (job loss, uninsured medical payments, separate/divorce, death of a parent etc.) submit documentation to vertify your claim.  Examples include, but not limited to, copies of 2023 signed tax returns, proof of one-time payment, death certificates, court documentation for separation or divorce etc.)
    • Special Circumstance Request to Increase the Cost of Attendance: If you have educational expenses that are higher than our estimated costs, submit proof of the expenses, often by receipt as proof of payment. This does not guarantee additional financial aid but rather allows the student to increase their financial aid by increasing their annual budget.
    • Unusual Circumstance Request for Independent Status: For students who need to submit documentation to prove their independent status for the FAFSA, provide two 3rd party statements that verify the student's claim for independence.

Step 4: Document Submission 

Students may upload signed statements and all supporting documentation directly to SUNY Delhi's Student Financial Service office online using our Secure Upload link.

  • After submission, check your email often and be on the lookout for emails and/or mail from SFS requesting additional documentation.
  • Supporting documentation may include signed copies of tax returns, W2 forms, proof of unemployment, death certificates, rollovers and/or other information.  For requets for independency for FAFSA purposes, offical documentation or signed third party statements may be necessary.
  • Deadlines apply and all requests should be submitted prior to the end of the semester while the student is enrolled.  Late submissions or submissions near the end of the semester may not be eligible for review.  


Most Common Special and Unusual Circumstance Questions

Am I guaranteed more financial aid?

Unfortunately, no. Each submission is reviewed on a case-by-case basis and the outcome will be dependent on the information provided and federal regulations. The result of the review may include additional financial options, including grants and/or loans, or no changes at all to the student's current eligibility. 

What types of aid are impacted by the Special Circumstance review?
The types of aid will vary by student and their eligibility. The review could result in a change to a student's calculated FAFSA Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which may provide additional Federal Pell Grant assistance or increase a student's Federal Subsidized Loan eligibility.  Depending on the type of review requested, it may also simply increase a student's Cost of Attendance, which would allow the parent or private student loan borrower to request additional funding.

Certain cases may also impact NYS financial aid eligibility that is administered by the Higher Education Service Corporation (HESC).  Certain cases that may be considered and are reviewed by HESC include changes to a family's financial situation (total and permanent disability, divorce or legal separation or death) that occurred during or after the required tax year reported on the student's application. Students should upload supporting documentation and monitor the progress of their review within their HESC account
My situation includes a financial change that occurred this year.  Can my application be considered for review if that year hasn't ended and subsequently taxes have not been filed yet?
It depends on the timing of the situation and what academic year you are attending/planning to attend.  Financial changes that occur in the first half of the current year are more likely to impact a student's aid eligibility as compared to a change that occurred late in the year.  We may suggest a student apply for a Special Circumstance review for a different academic year. 

For example, for the 2024-2025 academic year, we may consider income adjustments for the 2022, 2023 and projected 2024 income.  If the income change occured in 2024, we will need to collect at least a half year of information.  Therefore, for changes in 2024, submit documentation after July 1, 2024.
Should I submit corrections to my FAFSA if my circumstance has changed?

Your FAFSA should be submitted with the information that was originally requested by FAFSA.  A financial aid administrator has the authority to resubmit your FAFSA based on federal guidelines that follow the Special Circumstance Review.
What circumstances may be considered for a Special Circumstance review based on a change of income?
If your family has experienced a change in income due to unusual, special circumstances, SUNY Delhi's Student Financial Services office can re-evaluate your situation for the following reasons:

-Loss of job or permanent/indefinite reduction of work hours
-Separation or divorce
-Personal bankruptcy
-Death of a member of your immediate family
-Reduction/loss of child support
-High non-reimbursed medical expense payments
-Your parents took money out of their pension/retirement plan as a one-time payment to help cover expenses
-Other documented special circumstances outside of the student’s control
-Multiple siblings in college and out-of-pocket payment was made
What other circumstances may be considered?
Circumstances may include a request to be independent or to have a student's Cost of Attendance (COA) increased. Supporting documentation is required.

Requesting an increase to your COA may allow for additional loan borrowing (federal student loans, federal parent plus loans or private education loans) or federal work-study funding. Expenses that may be considered in calculating the student's COA include additional education expenses related to your program, as well as high transportation, child care, room, and board expenses.

Students requesting to be considered independent for financial aid purposes are directed to submit a signed statement that explains their situation along with supporting documentation.  Certain scenarios are not eligible to allow the removal of parent data from the FAFSA and aid calculation. 
What if I already have a zero or negative Student Aid Index (SAI)?
Students who already have a zero or negative SAI (as calculated based on the information on their FAFSA) are not eligible for additional Pell grant funding due to already having eligibility for the maximum Pell award.  The Special Circumstance form is not necessary; however, we may consider increasing the student's Cost of Attendance for other aid opportunities.  See 'What other circumstances may be considered?' above. 
Will this review impact my NYS Excelsior Scholarship?
If, at the end of the Special Circumstance review, it is determined that the student will receive a new Pell grant award, an increase to their current Pell award and/or other financial aid grant funding, the NYS Excelsior Scholarship will decrease or reduce to $0, based on the amount of the change in the student's aid.  This is based on the regulations from the NYS Higher Education Service Corporation that require schools to adjust the NYS Excelsior Scholarship based on other tuition grants and/or scholarships.
Are there other financial resources or aid opportunities available to students who plan to begin or continue their education?
Aside from the Special Circumstance review, other resources include:
-SUNY Delhi Scholarships (new and returning students)
-External/Private Scholarships
-NYS Aid for Part-Time Study (APTS)

What other resources are available to SUNY Delhi students?
CARE Team - Student Information (Academic Help, Regalia Food Pantry & more)
CARE Team - Parent Information (Parent Services, Academic Help, Regalia Food Pantry & more)
Office of Admissions

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