Special and Unusual Circumstances

Special and Unusual Circumstances

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln will make every effort to mitigate unexpected financial burdens created by special or unusual circumstances, including the death of a parent, separation/divorce, or other circumstances. Students who have experienced or whose families have experienced changes in financial circumstances should contact Husker Hub and request a re-evaluation of your financial aid application. Each special circumstance is unique and each student's situation will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis regarding our ability to meet emergency needs with additional financial aid or emergency aid.

Students Experiencing Unusual Circumstances/Dependency Override Request

Students may experience unusual circumstances that prevent contact with parents or contact with parents may pose a risk to the student. Examples of unusual circumstances include if a student:

  • Left home due to an abusive or threatening environment;
  • Is abandoned and/or estranged from their parents;
  • Has parents who are incarcerated, and contact with the parents would pose a risk to the student;
  • Is otherwise unable to contact or locate their parents;
  • Has refugee or asylee status and is separated from their parents, or their parents are displaced in a foreign country; or
  • Is a victim of human trafficking. 

Starting with the 2024-2025 year, both first-time and renewal applicants who indicate they have an unusual circumstance on their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) Form will submit their application under a provisional independent status. This allows applicants to receive a Student Aid Index (SAI) with an estimate of their federal student aid eligibility, subject to a final determination by the University. 

First-time applicants with unusual circumstances should submit the 2024-2025 Dependency Override Request Form for Unusual Circumstances along with supporting documentation as listed on the form. Requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If an applicant’s request is approved, the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will update the FAFSA record accordingly to show an approved dependency override. 

Returning students who have been granted a dependency override previously do not need to complete this form; they only need to submit the FAFSA Form indicating that they have unusual circumstances. The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will process the dependency override on their behalf. 

Students who have filed the FAFSA Form with parent information and now find themselves in an unusual circumstance should contact Husker Hub to speak with a student services specialist about their options.

Special Circumstances Leading to Changes to FAFSA Financial Information

When special circumstances occur that affect you or your family's ability to pay educational expenses, an adjustment to certain data elements on your FAFSA  Form may be made, which may increase your eligibility for federal, state, or institutional financial aid. Not all changes in financial circumstances change aid eligibility.

  • Death of a Parent: If a parent whose information is provided on the FAFSA passes away after the FAFSA is filed, the Office of Scholarships & Financial Aid (OSFA) will adjust the FAFSA information to reflect only the living parent's information.
  • Separation/Divorce: If your parents separated/divorced after their information was provided on the FAFSA, an adjustment can be made to reflect one parent's income and asset information.
  • Other Special Circumstances: Other special circumstances, such as student or parent loss of employment, loss of employment due to disability or natural disaster, loss of untaxed income or benefits, or unusually high medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance may also result in adjustments on the FAFSA. Special circumstances not inclusive of these categories should be described in a narrative and provided along with supporting documentation as part of a Special Circumstances Re-Evaluation process for review.

To begin the process and request a Special Circumstances Re-Evaluation Request of FAFSA information, contact Husker Hub at huskerhub@unl.edu or by phone at 402-472-2030. A Husker Hub Student Services Specialist will guide you through the process, form, and documentation required.

Changes to Costs (Cost of Attendance or COA)

When special circumstances occur that affect an individual student's costs, an adjustment to their cost of attendance (COA) may be possible. Adjustments to cost of attendance may result in increased loan eligibility in some cases. Not all changes to cost of attendance change aid eligibility.

  • Study Abroad: Students enrolled in a study abroad program approved for credit by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) may be considered as enrolled for the purposes of federal financial aid eligibility. Program approval is granted by the Global Experiences Office. Students interested in applying for financial aid must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) at studentaid.ed.gov/fafsa and a study abroad worksheet available from the Global Experiences Office.
  • Purchase of Computer for Educational Purposes: Students in a program of study that requires the use of a computer or special software may request an increase in their cost of attendance (COA) once during their program for the cost of the computer/software. Increasing the COA permits the receipt of additional loans or other aid to cover such cost. A cost estimate or a copy of the purchase receipt can be submitted for review. This change only impacts the opportunity for additional loan eligibility and sometimes external scholarships.
  • Student Health Insurance: The cost of University student health insurance premiums can be added to a student's cost of attendance, or COA, as requested. This change impacts the opportunity for additional loan eligibility.
  • Additional Transportation or Living Expenses: Transportation and living expenses (housing and food) are already included in your cost of attendance (COA). However, if you incur or will incur expenses that exceed the standardized amount already accounted for in your COA based on a required educational experience, such as fieldwork or experiential learning, they can be added based on verified documentation (if you are also enrolled in at least 1 credit for the applicable term).

To begin the review process to request an increase in your cost of attendance (COA), contact Husker Hub at huskerhub@unl.edu or by phone at 402-472-2030.