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Special Circumstances and The American Rescue Plan Act


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Special Circumstances and The American Rescue Plan Act

Special Circumstances and American Rescue Plan Act as it Relates to COVID-19

Students and their families may have experienced unforeseen circumstances and/or expenses during the past academic year due to Covid-19 or other circumstances beyond their control.  Students with documented ‘Special Circumstances’ that negatively affects you/your family’s financial situation could be eligible for an adjustment to the original data provided on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and your financial aid eligibility.

For example, because of Covid-19 some employers have shut down, reduced work hours, or furloughed employees. Some students or parents may not have been able to work due to illness. Your campus Financial Aid Office will be able to review your special circumstances and possibly adjust the amount of financial aid you receive or would have received.

If your family has experienced a change in income due to unusual or extenuating circumstances, the FM Financial Aid Office can use professional judgement and U.S. Department of Education guided flexibility to re-evaluate your situation for the following reasons:

  • Loss of job or permanent/indefinite reduction of work hours
  • Separation or divorce
  • Death of a member of your immediate family
  • Reduction/loss of child support
  • High non-reimbursed medical expenses
  • Parents took money out of their pension/retirement plan as a one-time payment to help cover expenses
  • Other documented special circumstances outside of the student’s control

Important Information:

  • In some situations, it may be possible to appeal your original financial aid award offer due to special circumstances. Please review the examples of special circumstances listed above before submitting a Special Circumstances Appeal. Include all required documentation listed.
  • If you filed a FAFSA and received an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of zero (0) and your family has documented COVID-19 related loss of income resulting in educational expenses that are not reflected in your current cost of attendance (COA) calculation, you can submit a professional judgement/special circumstances( COA) appeal if the above situation applies to you.  Though you would not be eligible for additional federal grants, you may be eligible for an increase in other financial aid offerings such as a federal student loan. Please document and describe in detail the (COA) budget component(s) that should be considered for a potential adjustment and increase in financial aid offerings.
  • If you have other circumstances not mentioned but which you feel should be taken into consideration, please write a detailed explanation of your circumstance and we will be happy to review your individual circumstances and determine if any change is possible to your financial aid offer.
  • Changes in federal aid eligibility does not affect eligibility for NY State aid as calculated by NYS HESC. You may wish to inquire with them directly regarding any possible special circumstance situations for state aid. They can be reached at 1-888-697-4372.

If you would like to apply for a Special Circumstance, please click here to download the SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE APPLICATION.

Please note:  Federal financial aid appeal decisions (Special Circumstances) are rendered on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the campus, based on guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education. All decisions are final. Every effort will be made by FM to assist students in need. Once a student submits their Special Circumstance Application and supporting documentation they will be informed of a decision within 7 to 10 business days.

If you have additional questions, please contact us.  Remember to include the Student Name and ID # on all documentation and communications.  Please make sure you have completed a FERPA Record Release.

Email:        finaid.mail@fmcc.suny.edu
Phone:      518-736-3622 ext. 8201
Hours:       Monday-Thursday (Phone, Email, In-person):  8am to 5pm
Fridays (Email & In-person): 8am to 4pm.