Other Important Items

Statement Concerning Special Circumstances and Application Data Changes/Adjustments

Each year a number of financial aid applicants request that we revise their financial aid eligibility because of special circumstances that have occurred. This is an accepted part of the financial aid process, and we are happy to help in any way we can. Many of these circumstances don’t occur until a late date, and we certainly understand that it is not possible for the applicant to make us aware of such a circumstance until it has occurred. Unfortunately, these situations sometimes occur much earlier, but some people don’t decide to make us aware of their circumstances until after they receive their financial aid award notice and decide that it is not sufficient. At such a late date, it is highly unlikely that there will be any additional financial aid available, and we would view such late requests with some skepticism since the applicant didn’t think that the circumstance was important enough to bring to our attention until after the award notice was received. If you encounter special circumstances, please let us know as soon as is reasonably possible.

Applicants should also keep in mind that the financial aid budget is not unlimited. At some point, we will expend all of our funds and, regardless of how deserving an applicant might be, it will not be possible to make adjustments to the amount of the aid package after that point.

Here are comments on some specific types of adjustments that we often encounter:

  • Each year we receive a number of requests for adjustments to the results of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid based on private elementary or secondary school tuition that was paid by the family. We do not normally make such adjustments for several reasons.

    • First, Federal regulations require that this type of adjustment be made on a case by case basis. The regulations do not allow schools to make adjustments for an entire class of students (e.g. All students who attended a private high school). Since it is normally a family’s personal decision to choose private high school or elementary education, we cannot make an adjustment simply because of personal choice since this would constitute making an adjustment for a class of students. For situations in which there are medical or other reasons outside of the control of the family which require the private education, we will consider the adjustment.

    • Second, many families of Messiah students choose private school options and we receive many of these requests each year, but our budget simply doesn’t allow us to make adjustments for all of these people.

    • Third, many institutions use a more stringent formula (one that assesses a higher contribution from the family) when determining eligibility for their need-based institutional forms of aid, causing a reduction of the amount of aid they offer to a student. Messiah College uses the straight Federal Methodology to determine a student’s eligibility for all types of need-based aid, including our need-based institutional forms of aid. The Federal Methodology ignores many items that other formulas consider (e.g. home value, retirement savings) and, on average, assesses the smallest family contribution of any formula of which we are aware; we have limited discretion to adjust this formula since it is codified in Federal law. Because we are not using a more stringent formula for our institutional aid, we feel that it is reasonable to ask that applicants accept the results of the Federal Methodology and not ask us to make further adjustments.

  • Adjustments for medical expenses are also a request that we receive frequently. We will make such adjustments under the following conditions:

    – We must receive documentation of the expense in the form of bills/statements/receipts related to the payment.

    – We must have documentation that the expenses were not reimbursed by insurance.

    – The un-reimbursed expenses must be greater than 7.5% of the adjusted gross income in the year that the expenses were incurred.

  • If, at any time during the year, there is a change to any of the data that you included on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid or other financial aid application forms, it is your responsibility to notify the Financial Aid Office of the change(s).