Special Circumstance Appeal Instructions

2014-2015 Policy 

The federal formula that determines a student’s financial aid eligibility is based on the most recent year that a tax return can be filed.  This is known in financial aid as the Base Year.  For the 2014-2015 academic year (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015) the base year is 2013. 


There are occasions when a family’s financial situation changes during the school year from what it was in the Base Year.  Upon request, the Financial Aid Office will review such changes (known as “special circumstances”) in the hope of providing a more accurate reflection of the family’s financial situation for aid purposes. 


December 1, 2014 Deadline 
Appeals submitted after December 1, 2014 may not be considered for the current 2014-2015 school year.  However, appeals filed after December 1, 2014 may be considered for the subsequent 2015-2016 academic year. 


There is no designated turnaround time for a response to an appeal.  This is because appeals are so varied by nature.  No appeal is final without confirmation from the Financial Aid Office, and while an appeal is in process all students must proceed with their financial aid award as it currently stands. 


Special Rule Regarding Job Loss (Dislocated Worker / Displaced Homemaker)  

Family wage earners who stop being employed due to circumstances other than voluntary termination must remain unemployed for a minimum of 10 weeks before filing an appeal based on loss of job. 


What Constitutes a “Special Circumstance?”

  • Not all changes in family income are accepted by the Financial Aid Office as a “special circumstance.”  To qualify, a special circumstance must cause an unexpected or unplanned reduction in the family’s finances.
  • Be the result of circumstances beyond the family’s control. 

Examples:  Employment layoff or the death of a wage earner. 


A situation is not a special circumstance if it includes:

  • expenses that the family has been paying regularly for several years (such as ongoing medical expenses)
  • expenses that involve lifestyle choices or expected family events (weddings, retirement)
  • One-time increases in the family’s income (lottery winnings, inheritance, sale of a home)
  • Elementary or high school tuition for other family members

Appeals must include the following: 

  • An appeal letter.  This letter must include your estimate of all 2013 income and provide an explanation how your estimate was derived.  Failure to explain your numbers may cause your appeal to be denied. 
  • Documentation authenticating the special circumstance.  (i.e. letter of job termination, death certificate.) 
  • 2013 IRS tax return transcript.
  • Go to and click on the “Order a Return or Account Transcript” link, or call 1-800-908-9946.  Make sure to request the “IRS tax return transcript and not the “IRS tax account transcript.” 
  • Completed 2014-2015 Verification Worksheet 
  • FOR JOB LOSS, include documented unemployment benefits
  • FOR JOB LOSS or DEATH OF A WAGE-EARNER, provide copies of all W-2 forms for both the parents and the student.  (The sum of wages on all W-2 forms must equal what is reported on the IRS tax return transcript.) 


Return all paperwork to: 

Chestnut Hill College  

Financial Aid Office 

9601 Germantown Avenue,  

Philadelphia, PA  19118 

Fax:  215.248.7217