Special Circumstances

Financial Aid (Need-based) Appeals

We recognize that the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) may not always portray a clear picture of your financial situation. If the FAFSA does not adequately reflect your current situation, or your financial circumstances have changed since you submitted the FAFSA, you may request a re-evaluation of your financial aid eligibility. We encourage you to complete the Special Circumstance Appeals Form (new students [2023-24], returning students). Please read the form carefully, choose the circumstance that best fits your situation, and provide all the information requested.

Families directly impacted by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, are also encouraged to complete the Special Circumstance Appeal Form. We may be able to help with additional expenses incurred due to COVID-19, whether that be extra medical expenses, extra childcare costs, job loss, salary reductions, or additional computer equipment to take courses on-line. Please read the form carefully and provide documentation that supports the financial hardships you have incurred.

In reviewing your completed form, the RWU FA Appeals Committee will consider your situation and determine any possible changes that may be made to your federal, state, and institutional aid resources. Keep in mind financial situation does not guarantee that additional assistance is possible.

Special Circumstance Consideration

Completing a Special Circumstance Appeal form allows students/families to address income changes in the current calendar year versus the prior year. The income and asset changes may result in a revision to the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), and any change in the EFC will help our office determine whether a student becomes eligible for additional financial aid.

Common types of circumstances that warrant a closer review include:

  • Recent Disability
  • Retirement during the calendar year
  • The death of a significant wage earner listed on the FAFSA
  • Divorce/Separation of dependent student's parents; divorce of an independent student and spouse
  • Change in amounts of child or spousal support
  • Extraneous out-of-pocket medical expenses not covered by insurance incurred between January 1 and December 31 of the prior calendar year
    • Note: Costs must not exceed medical expenses as allowed by financial aid regulations
  • Change regarding number of family members in the household whom you or your parents provide more than 50% support

Documentation Requirements

Loss of Income/Resources
Incurred as a result of layoff/unemployment, disability, retirement, death, divorce and/or child or spousal support.

Documentation required:

  • Job Loss
    • Three (3) most current pay stubs from each job held between January 1 through December 31 of the current year
    • If laid off, letter of termination from employer and copy of final pay stub
    • Notice of unemployment insurance award
    • Retirement benefits statement
  • Disability benefits eligibility letter
  • Agency verification of loss of benefits
  • Death Certificate
    • Any information about income from death (i.e., life insurance, death benefits, pension plans)
  • Divorce decree or statement of separation
  • Court/legal documentation (child/spousal support) verifying date support ends

Medical Costs (not covered by insurance)

Costs should not exceed medical expenses as allowed by federal regulations. Expenses must have been paid by parents or students.

Documentation required:

  • Receipts and/or billing statements from medical provider(s) that the family or student has paid out of pocket
  • Itemized statement from insurance company documenting costs not covered by insurance

Changes in the number of family members

Include any changes to the number of family members. These family members must be someone for whom you or your parents provide more than 50% of support.

Documentation required:

  • Provide a detailed statement explaining the reason for the change
  • List names, ages, relationships, and number in college

Other: Family situations not covered by the above can be documented in a letter and submitted for consideration also. Please note that any such change does not guarantee an increase in aid or changes to the original financial aid award. RWU provides the best offer in its original financial aid award.


Students will be notified via mail or phone regarding the Appeal Committee’s decision. In addition, students’ appeals that have been granted will receive a revised award in the mail. All decisions are final and appeals will only be reconsidered if new information is submitted.

Merit Appeals

All admitted students are considered for freshman academic scholarships. Each admission application is carefully reviewed and scholarship decisions are based on an overall assessment of the information contained in the original application materials. We have had to make very difficult decisions to select the overall strongest applicants from an extremely competitive applicant pool. Students appealing a scholarship decision should provide new and compelling academic information that was not previously included in their applications, or extenuating personal circumstances they feel warrant a change in the scholarship decision. Please note, for future years, an Academic Excellence Grant is available to those with a GPA of 3.6 or higher.

Documentation for a Merit Appeal

A complete appeal must be submitted in writing by the applicant, and must include the student’s most recent official transcript or grade report. If there is additional context to the student grades and performance that warrants explanation, The applicant may submit specific letters of support from teachers, counselors, and other persons who can provide information that may not have been included in the original scholarship review process.

Please return all requested materials to:
Email: admit@rwu.edu
Phone: 401-254-3500