Special Circumstance Appeals

Special Circumstances Appeal (changes in income or costs)
Unusual Circumstances (changes in dependency)

Special Circumstance Appeal

Binghamton offers its best of financial aid award upfront. However, we understand students’ and their families can be met with unusual and unexpected financial burdens and that things can change unexpectedly.  Therefore, appeals are used to determine federal financial aid adjustments only.  

Appeals processed by our office do not determine or change your eligibility for New York State aid, however, please be aware that an increase in federal grants could impact any Excelsior Scholarship funding you may receive. If you wish to pursue your appeal with NY State, click here to discuss your situation with a NYS HESC representative.

Examples of Eligible Appeal Circumstances

  • Loss of income or employment in 2023
  • Loss of income or employment in 2024
  • Death or a parent or spouse
  • Separation or divorce
  • One-time payment received
  • Excessive medical or dental expenses (paid out of pocket) in 2022 or 2023.
  • Other special circumstances outside of the student’s control.

How to File a Special Circumstance Appeal

  1. File the aid year-specific FAFSA (i.e., 2024-25 FAFSA for fall 2024 and spring 2025). Binghamton University’s Federal School Code is 002836.
  2. Before filing your request, you must be admitted to Binghamton University and have received an initial 2024-25 financial aid offer.
    1. Appeal reviews for newly admitted students - beginning May 1
    2. Appeal reviews for returning students - beginning June 1.
  3. Complete our Special Circumstances Form and submit all applicable documentation.
  4. Submit completed documentation through our secure upload portal here.

If you are currently experiencing an immediate, acute financial crisis, please review the following Binghamton University Dean of Students webpage.  In addition to providing information about the Binghamton Emergency Fund, other emergency resources are listed that you may want to explore:


Short-Term Emergency Loans are available through the Binghamton University Foundation Student Loan Program.  For more information, please visit the following webpage for more information:


Budget Increases

  • Requesting an increase in your budget can increase your eligibility for PLUS Loans, Private Loans, and Federal Work Study.

  • Write a detailed letter and attach documentation to confirm your additional educational costs. 

Examples of Expenses Eligible for a Budget Increase

  • Additional required fees and/or educational expenses during the period of enrollment (typically August-May).
  • Additional transportation expenses for students residing outside states other than New York, New Jersey or Pennsylvania.
  • Additional educationally-related expenses due to a disability or unexpected medical cost.
  • Childcare expenses required to attend classes. See the appropriate aid year Childcare Expenses form, located on the Financial Aid Forms page.
  • Other reasonable, education-related expenses reviewed and approved by the Financial Aid Associate Director or Director at Binghamton University.

Unusual Circumstances and Dependency Status

All applicants for federal student aid are considered either "dependent" or "independent." Dependent students are required to include information about their parent(s) on the FAFSA.

However, dependent students can be declared independent by the Financial Aid office, if there are unusual circumstances that warrant such a change. Before the Financial Aid office can change a student’s dependency status, the student must be able to provide documentation including third party testimony (i.e., mental health professional, high school counselor, clergy, etc.) to justify the request. Note: this applies to federal aid eligibility only, and does not apply to New York State aid (TAP Grant, Excelsior Scholarship).

Dependency changes are most often made in the case of parental abuse or abandonment where the parents can't be found or shouldn't be contacted. Dependency is not changed simply because the student is self-supporting and/or resides separately from parent(s), the student and parent(s) are estranged, the parent(s) does not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes, the parent(s) refuses to provide information on the FAFSA, or parent(s) refuses to contribute to the student's education.

In very limited situations, a student who cannot provide parental information and does not meet the criteria for a dependency change (not currently eligible for federal funding) may receive Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan funds at the dependent, undergraduate level, based on class level. See Binghamton’s Direct Loan webpage for more details: https://www.binghamton.edu/financial-aid/types-of-aid/loans/federal-direct-loans.html

Steps to Request a Review of Your Circumstances

To request a review of your FAFSA due to unusual circumstances, please schedule a ZOOM/phone appointment with a financial aid counselor or stop by in-person to the Financial Aid office. Your specific circumstances will determine what type of documentation is required, if applicable.  For more information about our servicing options and hours, please visit:  https://www.binghamton.edu/financial-aid/

All decisions regarding such requests are at the discretion of the Binghamton University financial aid staff and cannot be appealed. Students who have received dependency changes at other schools will be required to provide documentation from the prior school to Binghamton University.