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Special Circumstances

The Office of Student Financial Services uses the FAFSA to determine eligibility for institutional, federal, and state financial aid. We recognize that special circumstances exist and that the FAFSA may not always provide an accurate representation of your family’s current financial situation.

If your family’s financial situation has changed, we want to take the time to review the circumstances and determine if eligibility can be re-evaluated. Student Financial Services will make every effort to accommodate requests and will assist you in outlining the next steps. The information below will help you understand what we consider to be special circumstances and what documentation you may need to provide.

If you have questions about this process or to discuss your eligibility for a Special Circumstances appeal, please contact Student Financial Services at sfs@elmhurst.edu or 630-617-3015.

Qualifying Circumstances and Requirements

The below situations may be considered as eligible circumstances for review. Student Financial Services (SFS) may request any listed documentation to complete this process.

  • Loss of employment: For a loss or change in employment, SFS can review the impact on the household finances as it relates to the FAFSA. You may need to provide recent tax returns as well as proof of employment loss or change (e.g., letter from former employer, proof of severance, unemployment pay stub, unemployment benefit approval or denial letter).
  • Change in income: If the income on the FAFSA is higher than the current household income, SFS may be able to reduce your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). You will need to provide current income information for all applicable household members.
  • Divorce/Separation: You must provide documentation as proof of divorce or separation such as a legal dissolution of marriage and/or documents to prove separate residences. Income documentation that outlines separate wages and assets is also required.
  • Medical expenses/Disability: Exceptionally high medical expenses that have occurred and been paid may be documented to reduce your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Documentation detailing these expenses and proof of payment may be required. Schedule A may also be requested by SFS.
  • Death of a spouse or parent: You must provide a death certificate for the deceased parent or spouse as well as proof of income information for both the deceased individual as well as any other applicable household members.
  • Loss of unemployment or other benefits: If available, you must submit a statement from the unemployment agency detailing the amount of benefits received and date terminated.

Submitting a Special Circumstances Appeal

If you or a family member has experienced any of the above circumstances, you may be eligible to appeal. We would encourage students and families to contact Student Financial Services to discuss their eligibility for an appeal before submitting as well as to discuss any situations not listed above. As noted, the Special Circumstances Appeal is intended to re-evaluate a student’s financial aid eligibility as determined by the information on the FAFSA.

Please review the following items as they relate to processing a Special Circumstance Appeal:

  • The FAFSA must be completed prior to submitting a Special Circumstance Appeal.
  • If the FAFSA is selected for the federal verification process, it must be completed before the Special Circumstance Appeal can be reviewed.
  • Review and completion of this process may take several weeks depending on required documentation and FAFSA processing.
  • You are responsible for any student account balances while an appeal is being reviewed.
  • A completed appeal form and all required documentation must be submitted before the review process can begin.
  • Additional documentation may be requested during the review process and must be submitted in a timely manner to avoid delays.

Student Financial Services asks for your patience and understanding while we review your appeal information and supporting documentation. If additional documentation is requested, please respond promptly to avoid delays.

Appeal Form and Submission

Please use the link below to obtain a copy of the most recent Special Circumstances Appeal form. Complete the form and submit to Student Financial Services (SFS) along with any supporting documentation using the Secure Document Upload tool. Due to the sensitive nature of the information provided, we ask that you do not email any required documents unless specifically requested. The Secure Document Upload tool is the safest and most secure way to provide this information to us.

For all questions related to this process, or to get an update on an existing appeal submission, please contact Student Financial Services at sfs@elmhurst.edu or 630-617-3015.

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