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Special Financial & Unusual Circumstances Not Presented on the FAFSA

Special Financial Circumstances

Whitworth understands that families and students may need to request a review of special circumstances regarding their financial situation that cannot be indicated on the FAFSA. When appropriate, a student’s financial aid counselor will make adjustments to the FAFSA for special financial circumstances. Special financial circumstances are those imposed on a family or student that are out of the individual’s control. They do not include consumer debt, home debt, car debt, prior school debt or expenses related to personal choice. In addition, decreases in assets due to changes in the stock market are not considered a special circumstance. The value of a family’s assets is reported as of the day the FAFSA is signed. This information can be corrected in the case of mistakes on the FAFSA, but it cannot be updated due to changes in asset values.

The existence of special circumstances does not guarantee that an increase in financial aid will be available. Information regarding special circumstances should be submitted directly to the student financial services office for review. Do not send the information with the FAFSA; the processor will destroy it. Also, do not update the FAFSA data in an attempt to compensate for special circumstances.

Some examples of special circumstances are, but are not limited to:

  • Loss of income due to job loss
  • Career change/job change
  • Decrease in pay
  • Retirement
  • One-time income received (prior year)
  • Death of a wage earner
  • Divorce/separation
  • Private tuition (elementary or secondary) paid for other dependents in the student’s household
  • A parent attending college can be considered a financial burden if it is determined that the attendance is necessary for employment or retraining. The parent must be working toward a degree or certificate required for continued employment.
  • Extraordinary expenses not covered by insurance

Submitting Special Financial Circumstances to Whitworth

If you are applying to more than one college or university, each may handle your special financial circumstances differently. Documentation requirements may vary.

Please complete the 2024-25 Special Circumstances Request Form. Submit the required documentation indicated on the form to the Whitworth Financial Aid Office. Incomplete requests will be not be processed until all documentation has been received. We do our best to assist families and students with special circumstances. (If you have special circumstances related to your 2023-24 FAFSA, please contact Student Financial Services/Financial Aid for that year's specific form at Typically, special circumstances take about 15 days to process, but due to the delayed 2024-25 FAFSA, the review and processing of special circumstances may take a bit longer this year.

Unusual Circumstances Related to Family Information on the FAFSA

If you have experienced residing as a refugee or asylee, parental abandonment, human trafficking, incarceration, an unsafe home environment or housing insecurity not represented on the FAFSA, please contact your financial aid advisor for guidance and next steps.

Please feel free to call us for assistance at 800.533.4668 or 509.777.3215.