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AMERICAN RESCUE PLAN ACT OF 2021 SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCE GUIDANCE

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) requires institutions receiving Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to conduct direct outreach to its financial aid applicants and inform them of the opportunity to receive a financial aid adjustment due to significant changes in the student or family member’s financial situation.

Students with documented “special circumstances” that negatively affect their or their family’s financial situation — such as state unemployment receipts — could be eligible for an adjustment that may lead to a higher financial aid award. For example, because of COVID-19, some employers have shut down, reduced work hours, or furloughed employees, while others may not have worked due to illness. Your campus Financial Services Office can review your special circumstances to adjust the amount of financial aid you receive or would have received.

If your family has experienced a change in income due to special circumstances, your Financial Services Office has been given flexibility by the Department of Education to re-evaluate your situation for the following reasons:

  • Loss of job or permanent/indefinite reduction of work hours;
  • Separation or divorce;
  • Personal bankruptcy that occurs during the current financial aid year;
  • Death of a member of your immediate family;
  • Reduction/loss of child support;
  • High non-reimbursed medical expenses;
  • Your parents took money out of their pension/retirement plan as a one-time payment to help cover expenses;
  • Other documented special circumstances outside of the student’s control.

If you would like to apply for an American Rescue Act Special Circumstance, download the Financial Aid Appeal Form. Remember the appropriate documentation as stated on the form to support your special circumstance. You may mail, fax, email, or drop off your complete Financial Aid Appeal Form along with all the required documentation to the Financial Services Office.

Financial Aid Appeal Form

Federal Financial Aid Appeal decisions (special circumstances) are at the discretion of the campus and are based on guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education. These decisions are completed on a case-by-case basis, all decisions considered final. 91 Community College is compelled to make every effort to assist 91 in need. Once a student submits their Financial Aid Appeal Form, they will be informed of a decision within 14 business days.

NOTE: Students who already have a “0” Expected Family Contribution (EFC) already receive the maximum Federal grant. However, if you or your family have documented, COVID Caused loss of income, resulting in an educational expense that is no longer accurately reflected in your calculated Cost of Attendance (COA), you can submit a Professional Judgement-Cost of Attendance Appeal.

If you have questions, contact the Financial Services Office at (315) 294-8470.