Montana State University understands that students and their families may at times experience unique situations. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may no longer reflect current dependency status. Section 479A of the Higher Education Act provides institutions with authority to adjust, on a case-by-case basis and with appropriate documentation, a student status. This category is known as unusual circumstances. Appeals can be considered after an eligible FAFSA has been filed.

MSU has received the results of FAFSA, and those results show that you have reported unusual circumstances. These results have requested that you contact your school for further guidance on completing the FAFSA process.

***Note*** with the rollout of the new FAFSA for 2024/2025 year, many students appear to have inadvertently selected Unusual Circumstances and received what is called a provisional independent status. This status is ineligible for student aid until corrections can be made. Review the situations below and if these apply, please contact our office and have an interview with the staff in financial aid. If none of these situations apply, you will need to log back into the FAFSA and make corrections to add parental data information.

Unusual Circumstances are those conditions that support a change to the student’s dependency status. Examples may include but not limited to:

  • Parental abandonment or estrangement.
  • Physical or mentally abusive family environment.
  • Human trafficking.
  • Refugee/asylee status.
  • Unaccompanied homeless youth determination.

Unusual circumstances DO NOT include but are not limited to:

  • parental refusal to contribute or be a contributor to the student’s education,
  • parental refusal to provide information for the FAFSA or where the parent(s) do not claim the student as ‘dependent’ for IRS tax purposes,
  • a parent’s unwillingness to borrow a Federal Direct PLUS Loan,
  • a different university offering more aid.

An appeal form is available by request only and after you have spoken with the financial aid office. If you feel you have special or unusual circumstances as described above, please reach out to the financial aid office, and discuss your situation with a representative. Additional information or documentation will be required unless a previous appeal has been completed. A timely response to a submitted appeal will be sent to the student.