Special & Unusual Circumstances

At Touro University, we understand that every student's financial situation is different and that the FAFSA may not always accurately reflect your financial situation and/or dependency status.

Federal regulations give a Financial Aid Administrator discretion or professional judgment on a case-by-case basis and with adequate documentation to adjust the data elements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form that impact your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Professional judgment may not be used to change the needs analysis formula (Cost of Attendance – Financial Resources = Need). The following are examples of items that may qualify for a professional judgment.

Special Circumstances are financial situations that support a change to the cost of attendance or expected family contribution (EFC) calculation. Examples of special circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  • Loss of employment or financial assets
  • Reduction in income
  • Tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school
  • Unusual medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance
  • Housing change due to homelessness
  • Dislocated worker

Documenting a Special Circumstance

Examples of documents we may request:

  • W2s
  • Tax returns
  • Court or legal documents
  • Unemployment statements
    • Unemployment documents should be less than 90 days old. If there is a reason a new unemployment document is not obtainable, please include that in your statement.

We may ask for additional information to assess your record. We encourage you to monitor your emails and reply as soon as reasonable.

Unusual circumstances refer to the conditions leading to changes to a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation. Examples of unusual circumstances include, but are not limited to:

  • Legally granted refugee or asylum status
  • Parental abandonment or estrangement
  • Student or parental incarceration
  • Unable to contact parents
  • Contact with parents poses risk
  • Human trafficking

Please note that unusual circumstances do not include:

  • Parents refusal to contribute to the student’s education expenses
  • Parents are not willing to provide information for the FAFSA or verification
  • Parents don’t claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency

Documenting an Unusual Circumstance

Examples of documents we may request:

  • A signed and dated statement that includes a complete history of your relationship with your biological and/or legally adoptive parents, and the specific dates of events that caused your separation from your parents.
  • Additional information regarding your self-support may be requested such as utility bills, health insurance, or other documents that demonstrate a separation from parents or legal guardians.
  • Submission of court order or official Federal or State documentation showing that students’ parents or legal guardian(s) are incarcerated
  • Written statement from attorney, guardian ad litem, court appointed special advocate (or similar), or representative of TRIO or GEAR UP confirming applicant’s circumstances and person’s relationship to student
  • Documented determination of independence made by a Financial Aid Administrator at another institution in same or prior award year

Touro University will apply the full flexibility in the law and presume a student with an unusual circumstance is independent in subsequent years unless the student tells us their situation has changed, or we have conflicting information.

Process for Appeal: Students who find themselves with special or unusual circumstances should contact the Financial Aid Office to speak with a Financial Aid Administrator. The administrator will research the student's situation and verify the information presented by the student. Additional information or documentation may be required from the student. Notice of the need for any additional documentation will be sent to the student within 10 business days and a decision will be sent to the student 30 days after reviewing documentation. Requests must be received by the Financial Aid Office during the student’s period of enrollment.

Any decision made by a Financial Aid Administrator is final and is not able to be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education.