In accordance with Federal regulations EWC’s Financial Aid Office may take into account special and/or unusual circumstance(s) that are not reflected in the information provided on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), but may affect the family’s ability to pay for a college education.

Financial Aid administrators can make adjustments to a student’s estimated family contribution for education expenses and/or financial aid dependency status as determined by Federal guidelines. These adjustments only affect need-based financial aid and are only made after receiving sufficient documentation from a student to justify an exception to normal Federal financial aid program guidelines.

Special Circumstances:

An EWC Financial Aid Administrator may use a professional judgment on a case-by-case basis to adjust the student’s cost of attendance or the date used to calculate their Estimated Family Contribution (EFC). This adjustment is valid only at EWC.

Examples of special circumstances that may be considered:

  • change in employment status, income, or assets;
  • change in housing status (e.g., homelessness);
  • tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school;
  • medical, dental, or nursing home expenses not covered by insurance;
  • child or dependent care expenses;
  • severe disability of the student or other member of the student’s household; or
  • other changes or adjustments that impact the student’s costs or ability t pay for college.

Examples of Special Circumstances NOT considered:

  • increase of standard living expenses
  • purchase of material items (e.g., car, home appliances, vacations, second homes, etc.)
  • reduction of assets (changes in assets will be reflected on the following year’s FAFSA)
  • credit issues, line of credit changes, previous student loan debt, etc.
  • medical bills paid by health insurance or that will be reimbursed by health care coverage
  • siblings or parents who are also attending college (siblings are already taken into account on the FAFSA, students cannot list their parents in the number in college)

Unusual Circumstances:

Beginning with the 2023-2024 Award Year, institutions of higher education will have additional flexibility to assist students with unusual circumstances by adjusting their federal student aid eligibility to reflect their unique situation more accurately. These adjustments may include updating the student’s dependency status (commonly known as a dependency override) and the information the student must provide on their FAFSA form.

Students with unusual circumstances are defined as:

  • a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence because of unusual circumstances and in which the student is unable to contact a parent or where contact with parents poses a risk to such student, which includes circumstances of –
    • human trafficking, as described in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 (22 U.S.C. 7101 et seq.);
    • legally granted refugee or asylum status;
    • parental abandonment or estrangement; or
    • student or parental incarceration.

Other students will continue to qualify as independent on their FAFSA form and not be required to provide parental information if they:

  • were an orphan at the age of 13 or older;
  • were a ward of the court
  • are or were in foster care;
  • were an emancipated minor or in a legal guardianship as determined by a court in the student’s state of legal residence; or
  • are an unaccompanied homeless youth or unaccompanied, at risk of homelessness, and self-supporting.

Examples of Unusual Circumstances NOT considered:

  • parents do not claim you as a dependent on their tax return
  • parents are not helping you pay for college
  • no longer living with parents (unless due to one of the unusual circumstances listed in the section above)

If you believe you have a special or unusual circumstance complete our Special and/or Unusual Circumstance Form. You may be required to provide additional information to EWC’s Financial Aid Office to determine your eligibility.