Professional Judgement

Special Circumstances Requests

Financial Aid Administrators have the authority to take into consideration unique family circumstances not reflected on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  An aid administrator may use Professional Judgment (PJ) on a case-by-case basis to adjust the following:

  • Student's Cost of Attendance
  • FAFSA Data Elements used to calculate the Student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC)
  • Students Dependency Status

Eligible Circumstances

The following is a list of circumstances that may be used by a financial aid administrator in the use of Professional Judgment.

  • Unemployment or reduced employment of the student, spouse, or parent
  • Loss or reduction of an untaxed income or benefit
  • Disability of a student, a spouse, or a parent
  • Lump sum settlement received in the base year
  • Excessive medical/dental expenses paid in the current year
  • Divorce or separation of a dependent student’s parent or death of independent student's spouse
  • Dependent child care costs
  • Disability expense allowance
  • Computer Costs
  • Auto Repairs
  • Travel Expenses
  • Insurance Expenses
  • Dependency Status based on extraordinary circumstances (requires meeting with a financial aid advisor to determine eligibility)

Requirements

In order to apply for a special circumstances review, parents and/or students must submit all required documents for review. These documents will be reviewed and processed by a financial aid advisor in order to determine eligibility. If approved, the financial aid award letter will be revised and a notification sent to the student.

Document Submission

To request a review due to special circumstances, log in to your FA Online forms portal, click on the request button and choose the appropriate appeal request.

Family Contribution Appeal (EFC):

You may submit a request for special circumstances for your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) calculation due to unusual circumstances. You may use this form to request a review of extenuating circumstances which were not reflected on your financial aid application (FAFSA). The special circumstances may include one of the following:

  • A personal written statement that explains the employment history for the person who has a reduction in income during 2020.
  • Provide the dates of employment, the number of hours worked per week, and current employment status.
  • Provide a photocopy of your 2019 1040’s or 2019 IRS Tax Transcripts and W-2 Forms, if you have not already done so.
  • A letter from the former employer verifying the last date of employment.
  • If this change is regarding changed jobs or reduced hours, attach a letter from the current employer verifying work hours and hourly pay or salary.
  • Itemize total monthly GROSS (before deductions) income for each month.
  • Attach copies of pay stubs or statements of earnings from the employer to document amounts already earned.
  • If there is no income from work, you must fill in the blank with a zero and attach a letter explaining how you (and spouse) supported yourselves.

Cost of Attendance Appeal:

You submit an appeal to increase your cost of attendance budget due to unforeseen additional incurred costs. These costs are not currently part of the cost of attendance budget and may include:

  • Additional technology expenses
  • Unexpected auto expenses
  • Unexpected medical/or dental expenses
  • Other unexpected educational expenses
  • A statement explaining your additional incurred cost of education.
  • Upload copies of unexpected expenses incurred (receipts, statements, etc.)

Dependency Appeal:

You may submit an appeal request, by which a financial aid advisor may decide that a dependent student with extenuating circumstances should be treated as an independent student. This is called a dependency appeal and is considered on a case-by-case and year-by-year basis. Federal guidelines stipulate the following conditions do not qualify as circumstances meriting a dependency override: Non-eligible Criteria for Independence:

  • Parents refusing to contribute to your education
  • Parents unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or documents for verification
  • Parents not claiming you as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Student demonstrating total self-sufficiency

You must clearly demonstrate an adverse family situation in order to be considered independent for financial aid purposes. Adverse family situations may include: physical or emotional abuse, severe estrangement, abandonment, parental drug or alcohol abuse, mental incapacity or other situations beyond your control that prevent you from obtaining your parents' financial information.

Dates and Deadlines

You can submit an appeal request for the academic year by 04/15 of that year or the semester you are enrolled for before early May of that year. Your Professional Judgement request must be submitted prior to your ceasing enrollment.  

If you are only attending the Fall term, the deadline to submit a special circumstances request is due by early December.

For More information on How to Submit Documents

Please visit our forms and documents webpage at Application Forms

To Make a Virtual Appointment with a Financial Aid Advisor

If you have specific questions or need additional information, you can always make a virtual appointment with an advisor.

To book your virtual appointment please visit: Outlook Office Booking

For additional information on the Cost of attendance please visit 

Please visit our financial aid and Scholarship webpage at Financial Aid Basics