Special Circumstance and Budget Adjustments

Special Circumstances

NDSU Financial Aid and Scholarships recognizes the information reported on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may not reflect your current financial situation or ability to pay for educational expenses. If you are an undergraduate student and you or your family has experienced one or more of the special circumstances listed below, you may submit the Special Circumstance Form to have your financial aid eligibility re-evaluated.

Do not submit the Special Circumstance Form if you are:

  • A graduate student
  • In your final four professional years (P-1 through P-4) of the Pharmacy program
  • An undergraduate with an FAFSA-generated expected family contribution (EFC) of $0 or a Student Aid Index (SAI) that is a negative number or $0
  • On Financial Aid Disqualification for not making satisfactory academic progress

Special Circumstance Form for 2024-2025


Recommended submission dates for the 2023-24 Academic Year
November 13, 2023  —  2023 Fall semester only
April 8, 2024  —  2023 Fall and/or 2024 Spring semesters
June 10, 2024  —  2024 Summer semester

Special Circumstance Form for 2023-2024

NOTE: The 2024-25 Special Circumstance Form will be available mid-May, 2024. If you would like to discuss a change in your family’s financial situation and whether the change warrants submitting the form when available, please call NDSU One Stop at (701) 231-6200 or 1-866-924-8969 (toll free) or email us at ndsu.fa.pj@ndsu.edu to review with a Financial Aid Counselor.

Loss or Significant Reduction of Income or Benefits

  • You/your spouse or your parent(s) experienced a loss or significant reduction of income for 10 or more consecutive weeks that limits the ability to contribute toward educational expenses; and/or
  • You/your spouse or your parent(s) had a reduction of or will no longer receive benefits (e.g., child support, social security benefits, spousal support, etc.) thereby reducing overall income.

A significant reduction of income means something different to everyone and not all adjustments warrant submitting a Special Circumstance Form. Some general examples are shown below to provide an idea of what type of change might result in a change in financial aid eligibility. Please keep in mind that there are additional FAFSA items that are used in the overall calculation including number in college, untaxed income, assets, etc. If you are unsure of whether you should submit a Special Circumstance Form, please contact One Stop for assistance.

Example 1:
Dependent Student
Example 2:
Dependent Student
Example 3:
Independent Student

Parents' income on FAFSA was $50,000

Projected/New income from January-December is $40,000 ($10,000 loss)

No change in student's income

3 in household, 1 in college

Parents' income on FAFSA was $100,000

Projected/New income from January-December is $75,000 ($25,000 loss)

No change in student's income

3 in household, 1 in college

Student's income on FAFSA was $15,000

Projected/New income from January-December is $5,000 ($10,000 loss)

1 in household, 1 in college

Student should submit a Special Circumstance Form. While there is no guarantee that these changes would result in more financial aid, it is possible, if not likely, that new or additional Pell Grant funds could be awarded. Student may submit a Special Circumstance Form; however, it would not result in new or increased Pell Grant funds. It is possible this change could result in a subsidy change in Direct Loans that may save money in interest. Student should submit a Special Circumstance Form. This change will likely result in a new or increased Pell Grant. It is possible this change could result in a subsidy change in Direct Loans that may save money in interest.


Divorce, separation or Death Following Submission of the FAFSA

  • You/your spouse or your parent's divorced, became separated with the intent to divorce; or
  • Your spouse or parent passed away after your FAFSA was submitted. 

Medical or Dental Expenses not Covered by Insurance

  • For 2024-2025: In excess of 5% of the family’s total 2023 adjusted gross income paid toward out-of-pocket for medical or dental expenses or insurance premiums. Ongoing, longer range medical and dental expenses such as cancer therapy or orthodontic care may be included for the charges already incurred in 2024. Elective cosmetic procedures will not be considered.

One-time Income used to Pay Off Debt

For 2024-2025, this refers to one-time income received in 2022 that will not be available in 2024.

  • An example of one-time income that was used to pay off debt would be a capital gain inflating your adjusted gross income that resulted from cashing in a 401(k) for the purposes of paying off debt to avoid bankruptcy, foreclosure, referral to collections, or other extreme financial hardship.
  • Consideration will not be given for one-time income that is a result of an inheritance, job bonus, overtime earnings, gambling winnings, insurance settlements, etc.
  • Types of debt paid for the purpose of this category cannot include vacations, weddings, standard living expenses, home renovations, credit card debt, auto loans/insurance/repairs, etc.

Unusual Debt or Expense

For 2024-2025, this refers to unusual debt or expenses incurred and paid in 2024.

  • An example of an unusual debt or expenses that caused an economic hardship may include: dual housing necessitated by economic conditions, funeral expenses not covered by insurance, natural disaster expenses not covered by insurance or FEMA, or special travel/lodging for medical care. 
  • Expenses that cannot be considered include: vacations, weddings, standard living expenses, home renovations, credit card debt, auto loans/insurance/repairs, expenses related to self-employment, etc. 

If you are a student currently enrolled at NDSU and have immediate financial concerns related to your loss of income, inability to pay for rent, food, or child care, please inquire about possible limited emergency funding and/or additional student loan options by contacting One Stop.

Additional Information

  • You are responsible for any balances owed to NDSU while your special circumstance request is under review.
  • Submitting the Special Circumstance Form does not guarantee that you will be awarded additional financial aid.
  • All sections of the Special Circumstance Form must be complete and all required documents must be received before it will be reviewed.
  • If your financial situation warrants a change in your aid offer, it may consist of the addition or increase to federal grants or loans, or changing part of your Direct Loan from unsubsidized to subsidized, thereby reducing the amount of interest that accrues. State funding, Federal Work-Study, and Scholarships will not be awarded.
  • If your financial aid offer changes due to special circumstances, you must go through the Verification process (if you have not already done so) before the Special Circumstance Form can be reviewed. If you are selected for Verification, you will be notified through email regarding how to complete that process.
  • The process of Verification and the review of your Special Circumstance Form may take several weeks to complete.
  • To protect student privacy, all requests, communications and results are distributed only through your NDSU email account. A FERPA release must be on file if you wish to have financial aid information released to your parent(s), spouse, or anyone else.

If you have questions regarding the completion of the Special Circumstance Form or about the Verification process, please contact One Stop for assistance.

Budget Adjustment

A budget adjustment is an adjustment made by a Financial Aid Counselor based on documented proof of certain educational expenses incurred by the student that exceed or are not included in the standard budget. Carefully review the questions and categories below to determine whether you meet the criteria for submitting the Budget Adjustment Form.

To allow adequate time to review the request and process or disburse any aid resulting from an increase, the Budget Adjustment e-Form must be submitted at least 10 business days prior to the end of the semester. Submission dates for the 2023-2024 Academic Year are:

  • 2023 Fall Semester – submit by December 4, 2023
  • 2024 Spring Semester – submit by April 29, 2024
  • 2024 Summer Semester – submit by July 22, 2024

A Budget Adjustment e-Form for the 2024-25 academic year may be submitted beginning June 3, 2024.

Students must log in with their Campus Connection username and password. After completing the applicable sections, attach the required documentation and submit the form. Review may take 3-4 weeks and students are notified via their NDSU email when a decision has been made. Questions may be directed to NDSU One Stop at 1-866-924-8969 or 701-231-6200 or by completing the One Stop Inquiry Form.

Click the link below to complete the Budget Adjustment Form:

Budget Adjustment Form

What is a budget?

A student's "budget", is an estimate of the total educational expenses such as tuition and fees, books and supplies, and room and board. The budget also includes a transportation and miscellaneous expense allowance.

Please Note: Students who are enrolled less than half-time (less than 6 credits for undergraduate/professional students and less than 5 credits for graduate students) are not able to include room/board and miscellaneous expenses in their budget.

What warrants a budget adjustment?

A budget adjustment may be requested if additional financial aid is needed to pay for educationally-related expenses during a period of enrollment. Only certain expenses can be considered for a budget adjustment. The accordion sections below outline specific criteria, annual maximums and required documentation for each category. Only one budget adjustment request per semester is permitted.

Pharmacy Rotation or Practice Experience, Co-operative Education or Required Internship

An adjustment will be considered for reasonable costs associated with pharmacy rotations, a pharmacy practice experience (PHRM 355/455) a cooperative education program through the NDSU Career and Advising Center, or an internship that is required to graduate. Reasonable costs may include the following:

  • Additional or dual housing
  • Transportation or commuting costs
  • Monthly health insurance premiums

Maximum Adjustment

No set maximum. Financial Aid Administrator determines reasonable costs allowed.

Other Criteria

  1. Students who choose out-of-area pharmacy rotation are responsible for covering their own lodging and travel costs. The exception is for rotations in Arizona, Alaska and Washington, D.C. because they cannot be replicated in the local area.
  2. Costs associated with elective or recommended internships designed for academic enrichment cannot be considered. Airfare to and from the location of a required internship is excluded unless the student's advisor is able to confirm that the internship provides a unique experience outside of anything offered locally.
  3. Commuting or transportation costs will only be considered if they exceed the amount that is already included in the standard budget, which is $130 per month for the academic year and $146 per month for the summer semester. See the Commuting Costs section for more details.

Housing Expenses

A student may request a budget adjustment for housing expenses if they exceed the average monthly housing cost shown below:

Classification 2023-2024
Academic Year
Summer Semester
Undergraduate $519 $857
Graduate $857 $857
Professional Pharmacy $857 $857

When calculating monthly housing expenses:

  • Include rent/mortgage, heat, electricity and water/sewer/garbage.
  • Exclude telephone/cell phone, cable or satellite television, garage, storage rental, furnishings and security deposits.

Maximum Adjustment

For the academic year and summer semester combined:

  • $3,000 for students residing within 100 miles of Fargo-Moorhead.
  • $4,000 for students residing more than 100 miles outside of Fargo-Moorhead.

Other Criteria

  1. Must meet financial aid enrollment requirements of half-time status (6 credits for undergrad or professional pharmacy students, and 5 credits for graduate students) to qualify for housing costs in the budget.
    • Exception: Students enrolled less than half time in the 4-week summer session only (8 and 12-week excluded) may request a budget adjustment for the cost of their housing for that month.
  2. Only the student's portion of the total housing expenses may be included. Other adults living in the residence are assumed to be paying their portion. Documentation is required in the form of a copy of the student's current lease agreement showing their name, dates of the lease and the monthly rent. If the residence is owned, a copy of the most recent mortgage statement showing the student's name and amount of the payment must be submitted.
  3. Students living with their parents are not given a housing allowance in their budget.
  4. Assistance received from any agency (housing assistance, fuel assistance, etc.) must be reported on the Budget Adjustment Form and will be taken into consideration when making any increase.

Commuting Costs

Students who are enrolled at least half time and drive more than 50 miles round trip from their home residence to NDSU to attend class may request a budget adjustment for commuting costs. If approved, mileage is based on 50 cents per mile.

Maximum Adjustment

$3,000 for the academic year and summer semester combined.

Additional Criteria

  1. May include the cost for the number of weeks the student is enrolled with a maximum of 17 weeks for fall semester, 17 weeks for the spring semester and 12 weeks for the summer semester.
  2. If commuting costs are approved, the standard cost for transportation will be subtracted from the total amount approved. This amount is $130 per month for the academic year and $146 per month for the summer semester.

Health Insurance Premiums

Independent students who pay health insurance premiums may request a budget adjustment for the cost of a single policy premium if proper documentation is submitted.

Maximum Adjustment

No maximum.

Additional Criteria

  1. Adjustments will cover the cost of insurance premiums to cover the student only, even if married and/or with children.
  2. Students who have not yet purchased health insurance may be approved if an estimated of the monthly health insurance single policy is submitted. If approved, proof that insurance was purchased must be submitted within 30 days.

Computer or Required iPad

A one-time reimbursement for a computer or required iPad (professional pharmacy students only) purchased for educational use will be considered if proper documentation is submitted.

When determining the reimbursement amount:

  • Include computer or required iPad, standard and required software, keyboard, mouse, printer, extended warranty (up to 2 years), sales tax and shipping cost
  • Exclude optional software, games, carrying case and other non-essential accessories.

Maximum Adjustment

The maximum adjustment is based on average cost and required software for specific majors.

  • Architecture & Landscape Architecture: $4,000
  • Interior Design: $4,500
  • Pharmacy: $1,000 (iPad required)
  • VCSU Elementary Education: $600 (iPad required)
  • All Other Majors: $1,500

Other Criteria

  1. Computer or required iPad must be purchased prior to submitting this form for reimbursement, and must have been purchased during the academic year in which the reimbursement request is made.
  2. Students are limited to a one-time adjustment for the purchase of a computer or required iPad unless it has been four years since the first adjustment and the student has advanced from undergraduate to graduate status.

Other Educational Expenses

Additional educational expenses not included in the standard budget may be considered if appropriate documentation is submitted. These include:

  • New student fee, student ID card, or parking permit
  • Books, required supplies, textbook rental, digital textbooks and access codes in excess of $400 total for the semester
  • Disability related expenses (interpreter, smart pen, recommended equipment, etc.)
  • Music Lesson Fee, Equine Course Fee, Education Access Fee, or MML Access Fee
  • Special tutor or music accompanist
  • Reimbursement for payment of the cost of a first exam or professional licensure taken during the semester

Auto Repairs

Students may request reimbursement for paid automobile repairs that were necessary because their vehicle was unsafe or not operational, and no other mode of transportation (including public transportation) was available to get them to and from class on campus.

When determining repairs that may qualify for reimbursement:

  • Include engine, transmission, brakes, fuel pump, starter, alternator, head gasket, timing belt, computer circuitry, towing, and the cost for patching a blown tire or purchasing a replacement tire if blown tire is not repairable.
  • Exclude repairs such as fluids, battery, spark plugs, filters, wiper blades, tire rotation, etc.

Maximum Adjustment

$5,000 for the academic year and summer semester combined.

Other Criteria

  1. The repairs must have been made during the semester that reimbursement is requested and must have been paid by the student.
  2. Auto body repair and cosmetic services may be included if the damage rendered the vehicle inoperable.

Child Care or Elder Care Expenses

Students may request an adjustment for expenses incurred for dependent care. The dependent may be a child or an adult requiring special care such as a parent or injured spouse. The total cost of care will be divided in half for students who are married or who are living with the dependent’s other parent.

Maximum Adjustment

No maximum.

Other Criteria

  1. May include expenses incurred during the student’s class time, study time, field work, internship and commuting time.
  2. Adjustments can only be made for the number of weeks the student is enrolled with a maximum of 17 weeks for the fall and spring semesters and 12 weeks for the summer semester.
  3. The weekly cost may not exceed the average reasonable cost of similar dependent care in the community. The reasonable costs in the community are as follows: $185/week for newborn to age 2, $170/week for age 3-6, $150/week for age 7-12, and $450/week for elder and other adults needing special care.
  4. Child care assistance received from any agency must be reported on the Budget Adjustment Form and will be taken into consideration when making any adjustment.

Expenses Not Allowed in a Budget Adjustment

The following expenses cannot be included in the student’s financial aid budget:

  • Credit card or other consumer debts
  • Car payments or car insurance
  • Job interview or non-degree expenses
  • Legal fees, bail, traffic tickets, parking tickets, or fines
  • Pet care, unless for a service animal
  • Luxury items, such as premium cable service and high speed internet
  • Prior year expenses
  • Flight lessons

Students with financial concerns who do not qualify for a budget adjustment are encouraged to review the two resources below. Specific requirements must be met and both have a maximum award of $500. More information can be found by clicking on the links.

Student Emergency Fund – Funds that do not have to be repaid and are intended to help students meet unforeseen financial emergencies that might otherwise prevent them from continuing their education.

Short Term Loan – Funds that do have to be repaid and are intended to help students in an emergency situation when they have exhausted all other financial resources.

Will I get more aid?

An approved budget adjustment does not automatically guarantee additional aid. Students who are approved for a budget adjustment will not be awarded grants or scholarships but may become eligible for a Federal Direct Loan or Private Student Loan.