Income Adjustment Requests

The FAFSA makes the assumption that the best estimate of a family's current financial resources is the income and resources they had in the prior year. Due to extenuating circumstances, this may not actually be the case.

If the income information reported on the FAFSA does not adequately reflect a family's financial situation, UM's financial aid staff has the authority to make adjustments to the FAFSA data that may result in a change to a student’s aid eligibility.

Adjustments are not made for such things like regional differences in cost of living, the purchase of a new or used vehicle or an accounting of personal income against monthly bills. All adjustments are made at the discretion of staff in the financial aid office.

View the adjustment options below for appealable circumstances, and for steps on how to submit a request for review.

Income Adjustment Options

If a parent, student, or student's spouse has lost a job, retired, or otherwise had a substantial loss of income, adjustments can be made to the income figures reported on the FAFSA.

Please submit the appropriate form(s) for the situation that best fits your family’s circumstances:

If a family paid a substantial amount toward medical bills in the prior or current calendar year, an adjustment may be made to account for this unusual expense.

Adjustments can only be made for payments actually made by the family for after tax expenses. It can include anything that the IRS allows to be claimed, such as doctors bills, the cost of prescriptions, medical supplies and insurance premiums paid with after tax funds.

It does not include bills paid by an insurance company, over the counter medication, or health insurance paid with pretax dollars (since they are already removed from income figures).

If you (the student), your spouse (if married), or your parent (if you’re a dependent student) paid an unusually high amount (>11% of your annual income) in out-of-pocket medical costs (i.e. after insurance) submit:

If a student or family member was receiving a benefit that was reported as an income resources on the FAFSA, and that benefit will not continue through the academic year, an adjustment can be made for the loss of this benefit.

The discontinuation of child support or social security survivors benefits would be examples of adjustments that would be considered.

Provide a written statement and supporting documentation of what resulted in the cessation of these benefits and the date the cessation went into effect.

Sometimes the Adjusted Gross Income on a tax return (which is reported on the FAFSA) is inflated due to the required reporting of a one-time occurrence. Examples include, early withdrawal of funds from a retirement plan or the capital gains reported upon the sale of an asset. This results in the appearance of much greater financial strength then actually exists.

These "lump sum distributions" can be removed from the income by financial aid staff if they deem it appropriate. The nature of the distribution is taken into consideration, as well as whether it involves an actual available cash resource. If there was a cash distribution, the student will be asked how the cash was spent or invested.

Provide a written statement and supporting documentation of what resulted in the receipt of the lump sum distribution, and how the funding was spent or invested.

The following situations may result in a drastic change in a family's financial strength for which the financial aid staff may make changes to the FAFSA data:

  • Dependent student's parents separate or divorce
  • Student's parent or spouse dies
  • Student separates or divorces

If one of these situations occurs, submit the following:

  • A letter informing us of the change in status & provides the effective date that the change occurred.
  • Supporting documentation (e.g. death certificate, separation or divorce decree, etc.)
  • An accounting of which income and resources are attributed to each individual.

TIP: Oftentimes it is easiest to provide copies of all W2s as well as signed copies of the federal tax return (with all supporting schedules) for each individual. This assists the financial aid office with separating income due to changes in marital status.

If a dependent student marries after filing the FAFSA they may request reclassification to independent student status. To do so, they must be married, request the change, and have it approved before the end of the first term they receive aid in the academic year. Students who make this request will be required to provide a copy of the marriage certificate and submit the Spousal Information Worksheet for the year.

For any of the circumstances below, the student should write a detailed letter describing the situation and provide documentation to support their request.

Adjustments can be made if a dependent student's parent is enrolled at least half-time as a degree seeking student at a college that is eligible to participate in the federal aid programs. To request a review, submit documentation of the parent’s enrollment for the current academic year at another college.

Adjustments may be made if a family is paying private school tuition at an elementary or secondary school. There must be a documented necessity for the private school education other than personal choice.

If your current situation is not listed and you want to know if it is reviewable, please contact us and a counselor will work to assess your situation. Please note that adjustments are not made for such things like regional differences in cost of living, the purchase of a new or used vehicle or an accounting of personal income against monthly bills. Not all situations are reviewable per federal regulations and any adjustments are made at the discretion of staff in the financial aid office.

I’ve submitted my request, what happens now?

Below are the next steps in the re-evaluation of your financial aid:

After your appeal has been submitted, it can take up to 4 weeks for the review to be completed.

    • To ensure the documents are applied to your (the student’s) financial aid file, all the materials need to be submitted using your full name (first & last), and UM ID (starts with “790”).
    • Make sure all documentation has been provided to the financial aid office. Reviews cannot be processed until your financial aid file is complete, so be sure to have all your requirements submitted.

Respond to any requests for additional information as soon as possible.

  • If during review the financial aid advisor has any additional questions or requires more information, they will contact you using your UM student email account, so be sure you are monitoring that address regularly.

UM will confirm the result of the re-evaluation.

We will send a notification to your UM student email address once the review is complete. The email will summarize the decision and any actions you may need to take.

Re-evaluation of your financial aid eligibility is subject to federal, state and university guidelines:

Depending on the circumstance, staff in the financial aid office can adjust figures that appear on the FAFSA (e.g. Adjusted Gross Income) resulting in a change to the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC). All adjustments made are at the discretion of staff in the financial aid office and eligibility can be impacted by:

  • Timeliness of your original application for financial aid (filing the FAFSA);
  • Timeliness and completeness of the submission of your appeal, the nature of the change in circumstances, as well as the availability of funds.
  • Whether or not the change in financial circumstance has an actual impact on your aid eligibility. Please note that changes to the EFC from this review do not guarantee an increase in aid, however students are encouraged to appeal in the event more funding becomes available. After a review, the most typical outcomes are:
    • A student gains eligibility for the Federal Pell Grant or the amount of the grant is increased.
    • A student becomes eligible for more Federal Direct Subsidized Loan funds. However, there would be a corresponding dollar for dollar decrease in eligibility for Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan funds.
    • If your EFC was established as zero when you completed the FAFSA, you have already been offered the maximum amount of aid possible and will not be eligible for a review.
      • Not sure what your EFC is? You’ll find it printed on the upper right side of the Student Aid Report you received after filing your FAFSA.