Eligibility for financial aid is determined by the FAFSA, which currently uses financial information from two years prior to estimate a household’s current circumstances.
When unusual situations occur, it is possible to review a student’s aid eligibility based on their current circumstances through the Professional Judgment (PJ) process.
All Professional Judgment applications are required to have a detailed letter of explanation and supporting documentation. The Financial Aid Department may request additional documentation, beyond what is requested on the appeal form, to support your unusual circumstance.
You will need to indicate the year you are requesting FAFSA information to be adjusted on your Professional Judgment Request Form. An approved Professional Judgment is only applicable to the FAFSA year for which it is granted. You may need to complete a Professional Judgment Request Form for multiple years using the same supporting documentation.
Circumstances NOT considered:
- Mortgage payments
- Credit card/other personal debts
- Standard living expenses (utilities, car payments, etc.)
- Filing for bankruptcy
- Vacation expenses
- Elective surgeries
- All other discretionary expenses
- Different university offering more aid
- Reduction in 401K/investment values
- Parent’s inability or unwillingness to borrow Parent PLUS loans
- Student already has an Expected Family Contribution (EFC) of 0
Types of Professional Judgment
1. Change to Expected Family Contribution (EFC): If an adjustment to the student’s EFC is approved, an adjustment will be made to the student’s FAFSA. When the student’s corrected FAFSA returns, the Financial Aid Department will make all necessary updates to the student’s aid. Supporting documentation will be maintained in the student’s financial aid file.
Examples of circumstances that may be considered for an EFC adjustment:
- Loss of employment or underemployment
- Divorce/Separation of parents/spouse
- Change of marital status for dependent students
- Death of parent(s) or spouse
A change to the EFC could, but is not guaranteed to, result in a change of eligibility for need based awards.
2. Change to Cost of Attendance (COA):If an increase to a student’s cost of attendance budget is approved, the student’s budget will be adjusted accordingly. Supporting documentation will be maintained in the student’s financial aid file.
A change to the COA does not result in a change for eligibility for need-based awards, only increases the room in a student’s budget for aid including PLUS and private loans.
To apply, complete the Exceptional Circumstance Request Form.
Note: An approved Professional Judgment Appeal may not result in a change to the student’s financial aid award package.