The Catholic University of America is committed to offering our best financial assistance package from the onset. However, we recognize that students and their families sometimes have extenuating circumstances that are not accounted for in their financial aid application data. Therefore, we will evaluate aid packages on a limited basis that meet one or more of the circumstances listed below.

Detailed instructions, including the necessary documentation, are included on the Appeal for Consideration of Extraordinary Circumstances form.

The Catholic University of America understands that the pandemic has impacted many students and
families. Both the US Dept. of Education and University policy allow us to take into
consideration the many unfortunate financial circumstances students may have
experienced. Our office is afforded the opportunity to review many situations to make
sure your FAFSA accurately reflects your current financial situation.

Please note that an appeal/Professional Judgement request does not guarantee approval. In addition, even if approved, the recalculation of FAFSA data does not always result in an increase in aid eligibility. If the professional judgment is not in your favor, it will not be processed.

Circumstances that may be evaluated:

  • Loss of Employment – generally have at least 3 months of unemployment resulting in a total household income reduction of at least 25%
  • Divorce or Separation of Parents or Student and Spouse
  • Death of Parent or Spouse – which generally will result in household income reduction of at least 25%
  • Medical Expenses not paid by health insurance or reimbursed by a health savings plan – generally applies if the amount is 11% of total household income
  • Permanent and Total Disability - generally resulting in a total household income reduction of at least 25%
  • Disaster or Natural Occurrence
  • Other Loss of Income – generally resulting in a total household income reduction of at least 25%
  • Other Situations can be evaluated on a case-by-case basis if they cause extraordinary hardship to the family or student. Typically, bills and incurred debts cannot be considered.

Circumstances that will not be evaluated:

  • Personal debts, such as credit cards, car or home loans, and other consumer debt are not eligible for consideration, as they are debts of choice rather than extraordinary circumstances.
  • Prior or concurrent education loans for the student, siblings, or parents will not be considered, nor will the prior or concurrent cost of private primary or secondary schooling for the student or siblings.
  • The Catholic University of America generally will not consider “fluctuations” of income caused by self-employment, sales commissions, bonuses, gambling, or seasonal employment.
  • Insurance premiums will not be considered. Medical expenses may only be considered in very limited circumstances as outlined above.
  • Business losses and net operating loss carryovers are already built into the aid formulas based on your tax information and will not be considered.
  • Bankruptcy or tax liens will not be considered extraordinary circumstances.

All federal financial aid is based on the information provided by students and parent(s) when they submit the FAFSA. Institutional need-based aid is determined by the information provided in the FAFSA, thus required for maximum aid consideration. For The Catholic University of America to consider an appeal, the family must demonstrate an extraordinary change to the data provided on these applications. We cannot consider increases in institutional merit-based aid which is awarded at the time of application for admission to the University and is determined by the Office of Admissions.

Implications for verification of aid applications:

  • Appeals begin with the consideration of the data contained within the FAFSA application; therefore, if your application was not initially selected for the verification process it may be selected.
  • Selection for verification requires the submission of financial and household information to verify the accuracy of the FAFSA.
  • Verification may result in reduced need if the initial application was inaccurate; in this case, appeals may not result in additional aid.

Important Information about appeal processes:

  • Families and students should realize that financial aid funds are limited and aid programs have statutory annual limits per student. In many cases, even if an appeal meets the criteria above, an adjustment in application data may not result in any additional aid.
  • One appeal is considered annually, per student, per circumstance.
  • Recurring circumstances in year-over-year appeals will be scrutinized more vigorously, as they are not extraordinary circumstances.
  • Review and decisions about Extraordinary Circumstance Appeals are made by a committee of financial aid professionals and are final. They cannot be appealed to the U.S. Department of Education. The Director of Student Financial Assistance has the discretion to make exceptions to the appeal policy including the conditions of appeal or the necessary documentation requirements.

Please complete and return the "Appeal for Consideration of Extraordinary Circumstances" form. Detailed instructions, including the necessary documentation, are included on the form. Please make sure to submit all the information required for your circumstance along with the documentation necessary to complete verification (per the form) if not already submitted. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Detailed instructions, including the necessary documentation, are included on the Appeal for Consideration of Extraordinary Circumstances form.