Special Conditioning Processing

The Financial Aid Office will consider unusual circumstances which may affect a family’s ability to contribute to postsecondary education costs and/or eligibility for financial aid. Such cases will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, to determine if adjustments to data items in the need analysis are warranted. Methodological changes and adjustments made directly to the EFC are not permitted. Most circumstances will result in changes to the adjusted gross income (AGI) or net assets. The TMU Special Condition Processing Guidelines are intended to provide the basis for consistent treatment of all aid applicants with similar circumstances.

Regardless of the reason for a special condition request, the student must verify the accuracy of the income and tax information reported on the FAFSA by submitting a copy of their and/or their parent’s federal tax return(s) or complete the verification process for those selected for verification.

The typical hardships which may warrant consideration are (but are not limited to):

  • unusual medical and dental expenses
  • private elementary and secondary school tuition
  • income reduction or nonrecurring income
  • unusual debts
  • support of extended family
  • parents enrolled in college
  • plus loan denial
  • cost of attendance adjustment

For more information on cost of attendance please visit our Estimated Cost of Attendance page.

Financial Aid Special Condition Processing

Families must complete and submit the TMU Special Condition form to the Financial Aid Office for review and processing in order to consider unusual circumstances that might affect the EFC. The TMU Special Condition form must be signed by the student and at least one parent if the student is dependent. The spouse of an independent student is not required to sign the Special Condition form.

In some cases, it may be necessary to obtain information in addition to that collected on the TMU Special Condition form or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. There are no standard guidelines for documentation requirements; however, sufficient notes should be documented by the Financial Aid Counselor on the TMU Special Condition form. This will enable another staff person to easily ascertain the reason for the changes as well as the effect on the need analysis and aid package.

Apparent inconsistencies in any data should be resolved before adjustments to need analysis that would affect the EFC and/or package are made. If the review of all documentation, including the TMU Special Condition form does not reveal any reason for an adjustment, this decision should be documented as part of the Special Condition form by the Financial Aid Counselor.

On a case-by-case basis, it should be determined whether the income earned from work amounts reported should be adjusted in order to adjust the employment allowance.

When the AGI is reduced by any adjustment, the taxes paid should be adjusted to conform to the original proportion of tax paid to AGI or use the estimated tax from the tax tables.

The FM formula makes no provision for unusually high medical and dental expenses. Such expenses may be considered under professional judgment. TMU will consider unusual medical and dental expenses paid in the base year and/or amounts paid for medical or dental insurance in the base year (not including employer contribution or employer reimbursement) that exceed 11% of IPA (Income Protection Allowance). The amount will be deducted from the AGI.

When special circumstances warrant the use of EXPECTED YEAR INCOME, an adjustment to EXPECTED YEAR INCOME for unreimbursed medical and dental expenses PAID IN THE BASE YEAR should not be made.

The FM formula makes no provision for unreimbursed elementary and secondary school expenses. Such expenses may be considered under professional judgment. Even though the decision to enroll a child in a private school is generally one of choice, such choice may impact the family’s ability to contribute to postsecondary educational costs. TMU will grant an allowance for elementary and secondary tuition expenses for other siblings in the dependent student’s family and for children of independent students. This allowance will only be applied against income when the expense was paid in the base year and is expected to be paid in the expected year. The AGI will be reduced by the amount(s) paid.

The student may not be included in this adjustment allowance nor any sibling (or child) for whom private elementary/secondary expenses were paid but will not be paid in the expected year.

TMU will consider, on a case-by-case basis, the use of estimated EXPECTED YEAR INCOME over base year income when the base year income does not accurately reflect a family’s or student’s ability to pay for the postsecondary educational cost. Examples of such circumstances may include, (but are not limited to) divorce, death, change or loss of employment, dislocated worker, disability, receipt of nonrecurring income, cessation of alimony, child support, or unemployment benefits, etc.

The Expected Year Income (i.e., anticipated calendar year income) may be used instead of the base year income when the EXPECTED YEAR INCOME is reported on the TMU Special Condition form. Any inconsistent or questionable amounts must be resolved before making this adjustment. If nonrecurring income was spent in the base year, the base year AGI may be adjusted by this amount.

If the source of the nonrecurring income is an IRA or pension distribution that has been rolled over, it should not be counted as income or as an asset because such retirement funds are not currently part of the FM.

Capital gains may be nullified (i.e., an allowance adjustment against income) if it appears that they are a one-time occurrence. When there is a recurring pattern of income from capital gains, this allowance against income should not be permitted.

Nonrecurring income from miscellaneous sources may be excluded from the based year or EXPECTED YEAR income if the family requests such adjustment and would have a positive effect on the EFC or aid package. The same is true of untaxed income and benefits.

Consumer debts and personal possessions are not typically taken into account in need analysis. Indebtedness for discretionary purchases should be disallowed. Some families will show large indebtedness because of previous loss of income, extended unemployment, illness, or business failure. Special consideration and possible allowances against income may be appropriate in such cases. Adjustments should be made by reducing the AGI by the amount of the annual installment payments on these debts, or by adjusting assets (if this treatment may be a more accurate reflection of the family’s cash flow); or by use of EXPECTED YEAR INCOME.

Documentation should be obtained when adjustments are made to allow for the support of grandparents or other relatives. Such support may include nursing home fees, other medical expenses, or general living expenses. Such expenses may affect the family’s discretionary income. In some situations, the family’s assets include that of the extended family member (or sources of other taxable and non-taxable income and benefits), which is to be used solely for their support. Therefore, an adjustment would not be warranted.

Parents enrolled in college are not to be reported in the number in college question on the FAFSA. Parents who are enrolled in college may request an adjustment to their EFC. An adjustment to the AGI will be considered based on the amount the parents had to pay out-of-pocket for institutional charges that were not covered by financial aid and/or employee reimbursement. Likewise, taxes paid will also be adjusted based on the adjustment made to AGI.

Parents who were approved for a PLUS Loan may request the additional unsubsidized loan funds if they can document that based on their income or other factors that they cannot afford to pay the parent loan. Lenders use a debt-to-income ratio as an indicator of the family’s ability to repay debt. If the ratio is low, they have a higher likelihood of repaying their debt. The higher the ratio, the greater the chances of someone being a credit risk. If the debt-to-income ratio exceeds 36%, the borrower may have trouble finding affordable credit. The parent must provide documentation of all outstanding debts.
Parents who have other situation, i.e. bankruptcy, may also request consideration for an additional unsubsidized loan. Documentation of bankruptcy or other situations must be presented.

Adjustment to any cost of attendance component may be adjusted based on appropriate documentation.