Special Circumstances

Special Circumstances

Update: American Rescue Plan Act Special Circumstance Guidance

Students with documented ‘Special Circumstances’ that impacted their (and/or their family's) financial situation could be eligible for a financial aid adjustment. For example, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some employers have shut down, reduced work hours, furloughed employees and others may not have been able to work due to illness. We may be able to review your special circumstance to adjust the amount of financial aid you receive or would have received.

Have questions? Book an appointment in Starfish or contact SFS.


Student Financial Services (SFS) realizes 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. Please review the steps below to see if a 'Special Circumstance' review is right for you.


  • For the current 2022-23 academic year, we may consider financial circumstances that occurred in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Other non-financial circumstances that occur in 2023, as part of the 2022-2023 academic year, may also be considered.
  • We encourage students who may be eligible for a Special 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 (e.g., the 2022-2023 FAFSA requires 2020 tax/income and for the 2023-2024 FAFSA requires 2021 tax/income information).
  • If your FAFSA has already been submitted to SUNY Delhi (using school code '002857'), skip to Step 2.

Step 2: Review your Account for Outstanding Requirements

After submitting the FAFSA, some applications are selected for review by the Department of Education in a process called 'Verification,' or may have 'flags' that need attention prior to the Special Condition review.

  • If your FAFSA was selected for Verification, or if you are unsure, visit our FAFSA Verification page for instructions on how to view your account for missing verification items in Bronco Web.
  • If your FAFSA has unresolved flags, such as selective service registration or an unconfirmed citizenship status for example, these must be resolved and can be viewed in Bronco Web.
  • To view your outstanding financial aid requirements, including verification or FAFSA flag items, log in to your Bronco Web and click on 'Financial Aid' > 'Eligibility.'
  • If you have resolved all outstanding requirements, skip to Step 3.
  • For the upcoming 2023-2024 academic year, this step is currently unavailable. 

Step 3: Complete a Special Circumstance Form & Gather Documentation

Before a final determination can be made, students must submit both the special circumstance form and all required supporting documentation. 

  • To view a list of our forms, visit our Financial Aid Forms web page. Under the ‘Special Circumstance’ section, choose the form that best relates to your situation.
  • For the upcoming 2023-2024 academic year, this step is currently unavailable. 

Step 4: Document Submission 

Students may upload the signed Special Circumstance form and all supporting documentation directly to SUNY Delhi's Student Financial Service office online.  The link to the Secure Upload form is provided on the Special Circumstance form.

  • Check your email often and be on the lookout for emails and/or mail from SFS requesting additional documentation.
  • Supporting documentation may include copies of tax returns, W2 forms, proof of unemployment, death certificates, rollovers and/or other information. 
  • 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 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 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 2022-2023 academic year, we may consider income adjustments for the 2020, 2021 and projected 2022 income. For the 2023-2024 academic year, we may consider income adjustments for the 2021, 2021 and projected 2023 income. 
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
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 complete the 'Request for Independence' form along with all supporting documentation.  As mentioned on the form, 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 Expected Family Contribution (EFC)?
Students who already have a zero EFC (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)
-SNAP Benefits for students based on the Consolidated Appropriations Act (Jan 2021) (scroll to the "COVID-19 Temporary Update section"
What other resources are available to SUNY Delhi students?
Mental Wellness and the Coronavirus (COVID-19)
CARE Team - Student Information (Academic Help, Regalia Food Pantry & more)
CARE Team - Parent Information (Parent Services, Academic Help, Regalia Food Pantry & more)