What constitutes special circumstances for Financial Aid

<p>Hi all,</p>

<p>Quick question about special circumstances - my husband is 60 and was out of work for two years, followed by a series of medical issues (leading to cardiac bypass surgery and the associated rehabilitation); As a result, we've incurred some significant debt. He's working now, earning a salary that would preclude any financial aid, but we're still recovering. How can I make that clear to aid counselors? Most of the posts here infer that debt is the fault of the parents, and not to be considered in determining aid. While I agree in principal even in my own case, I also think that there are circumstances where accumulating debt was a matter of survival. Has anyone had any experience with this kind of situation.</p>

<p>All advice would be appreciated.</p>

<p>Here's a website that discusses special circumstances: <a href="http://www.finaid.org/educators/pj/specialcircumstances.phtml%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.finaid.org/educators/pj/specialcircumstances.phtml&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/p>

<p>From what I've gathered in reading posts, a good first step would be to contact the FA offices of the schools to which your child is applying and ask what documentation they would like to see. Items which immediately come to mind are statements showing your medical debts. You might also ask if you could send copies of the tax returns for the period he was out of work. Hopefully someone with first-hand experience will post. Good luck!</p>

<p>It's really going to depend on your school- some publics seem to ONLY take certain proscribed info to make adjustments, some privates may be able to think more creatively</p>

<p>If your income was halved for two years- perhaps to the point where your child qualified for FRL, be sure and have the high school counselor mention that , as it will give you more credibility when asking for a reassessment of aid package.</p>

<p>However, it is my experience, that while debt can be a stopgap measure in a crisis- colleges don't necessarily consider debt when assessing income.</p>

<p>In our case we have had times when we had to use credit cards to buy groceries, because of underemployment after layoff( not unemployed- but mowing grass and babysitting doesn't pay well) & high medical bills.
We also have had to take money out of our retirement accounts in order to not lose our house ( downsizing wasn't an option)</p>

<p>Especially if you didn't have any retirement accounts to utilize, make note of that when explaining why your debt is so high.</p>

<p>73552, is this for this application cycle? Or one in the future? If this one, then document and do your best. If next year (or later) then assume zero adjustments will be made. The disappointment won't be as traumatic if you've done the right admissions planning and have financial safeties in place. We had 5 distinct "arguing points" (I prefer to think of them as "5 unassailable positions") with FA including some of the ones mentioned here. Total adjustments- $0.00.</p>

<p>OP, when you come back here to our side of the mirror you'll realize that on their side "the future isn't looming and the past was just a bad dream".</p>

<p>curmudgeon--your info is helpful--may I ask what schools you were dealing with?</p>

<p>If it is for this application cycle, I suggest you prepare your documents and then WAIT until letters of acceptance have been received- THEN contact the financial aid depts. Colleges accept the students they really want, so having an acceptance letter in hand can put you in a better "negotiating" position as far as requesting more FA. [And remember, NEVER use the term "negotiate" when dealing with FA offices- you would be "appealing" their offers of FA.]</p>

<p>To add to Menloparkmom's fine advice; before you "appeal", you will just be contacting the schools to ask for "clarification", i..e did they take the following information under consideration when they made their decision about the FA award. If the school tells you that they didn't take your circumstances into account and that a review on those grounds are not likely to yield a change in aid, then imho don't invest time in asking for an appeal. If the school tells you that they in fact were aware of your situation, then an appeal which documents actual numbers (expenses, extenuating circumstances, etc.) might be worth the effort.</p>

<p>Be aware that I've never heard of a school modifying an award based on a future or predicted scenario, i.e. "we're concerned there may be significant expenses next year if he needs more rehab". If that turns out to be the case, your award may be modified.... but not ahead of the bell so to speak.</p>