Special Circumstances

The University of Northern Iowa Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships understands that families can experience hardship or changes that are not reflected within the FAFSA. This can affect the family or student’s ability to contribute to educational expenses.

The U.S. Department of Education regulations permit financial aid offices to determine different types of circumstances that may warrant review. To ensure accuracy and compliance with federal financial aid regulations, all circumstances will be considered on a case by case basis.

Situations Considered for Review

  • Parent loss or reduction of income

  • Student loss of income

  • Loss of benefits (unemployment, child support, etc.)

  • High medical expenses paid out-of-pocket

  • Natural disasters

  • Parent divorce or separation: Please contact our office via email (fin-aid@uni.edu) or phone (319-273-2700) and we will request documentation for you to complete so we can update your FAFSA.

  • Death of a parent: Please contact our office via email (fin-aid@uni.edu) or phone (319-273-2700) and we will request documentation for you to complete so we can update your FAFSA.

  • Student gets married AFTER filing the FAFSA.

Situations Not Considered for Review​

  • Expenses related to personal living (payments on consumer debts, personal loan payments, or other miscellaneous expenses)

  • Bankruptcy, foreclosures, or collection costs

  • One time increases on income (gambling winnings, inheritance, insurance or divorce settlements, 401k withdrawals)

  • Tuition for elementary/secondary education

  • Please note: this list is not exclusive and other situations may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis


Things to Know

  • The FAFSA must already be on file in order to inquire about a special circumstance.

  • You will also be required to complete verification before an appeal is processed.

  • Documentation will be requested and required to support any special circumstance appeal. Further documentation may be required based on new information found in the appeal.

  • In some cases, we may find that an appeal would not cause a change in the financial aid award, in which case the appeal would be canceled.

To start the process, please contact our office to evaluate your situation.

Budget Adjustment

The maximum amount of financial aid you can receive is limited to your total Cost of Attendance. If you have accepted financial aid up to the total Cost of Attendance but still need additional funding, contact our office to inquire about a budget adjustment.
If a budget adjustment is approved, we would increase your Cost of Attendance, which may allow you to receive more financial aid. Keep in mind, additional funding would most likely be in the form of a federal or private education loan.
Below is a list of circumstances for which a budget adjustment may be considered. This is not an exhaustive list and other situations may be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.