Appeals Due to Special Circumstances

SMU recognizes that students and families occasionally face unexpected circumstances that may significantly impact the overall cost of attendance or their ability to cover those costs.   The Office of Financial Aid is authorized by the U.S. Dept of Education to consider special circumstances through an appeals process, reviewed on a case by case basis, with limits to what and how special circumstances may be considered.  


Appeal Requirements


Students who wish to submit an appeal must first verify the accuracy of current FAFSA data as well as resolve any conflicting information.  The “verification process” compares the information reported on the FAFSA with official documentation submitted by the student and family such as an official, tax transcript   Students and their parents must request an official copy of the tax transcript from the IRS which must be submitted to SMU for verification.  In addition to tax documents, students and/or their families may be required to submit additional documents to clarify or resolve any conflicting information.   Schools may not consider any special circumstances until after verification is complete. 

Each appeal must include a written statement explaining the specific circumstances as well as a plan to manage the circumstances in the future. The following list provides information on the type of circumstances that may be considered along with the documentation requirements for each.



Additionally, the appeal must include information on current income such as:

  • Estimated gross wages earned from work
  • Unemployment benefits
  • Child Support received
  • Disability benefits
  • Other untaxed income
  • Other taxable income such as interest income, dividends, or alimony


Each appeal must be submitted to the Office of Financial Aid as a single complete packet.   Items submitted for review without documentation will not be considered.  Additional documentation may be requested by the Office of Financial Aid at any time during the review process

If you are unsure if an appeal will be beneficial for you or if you have more questions on the appeal process,  the Division of Enrollment Services/Office of Financial Aid has recorded the SMU Undergraduate Financial Aid Appeal Presentation for you to view at your convenience.  

If you are ready to begin the process,  please contact your Financial Aid Advisor for the next steps.