The Higher Education Act of 1992 allows financial aid administrators to make professional judgment decisions when there are special or unusual family or student circumstances that may call for adjustments in determining a student’s eligibility for financial aid.
Circumstances requiring professional judgment must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis. These circumstances must be documented.
Professional judgment adjustments may increase or decrease a student’s expected family contribution (EFC) or cost of attendance. Specified adjustments may be made to data elements, but not to the federal methodology formula. Adjustments made will apply to all institutional, state and Title IV aid awarded.
Circumstances which may warrant a professional judgment decision include, but are not limited to the following:
- A change in income of the student’s family that would affect the family’s ability to pay for college expenses.
Examples would be loss of employment, loss of untaxed benefits, a separation or death. Documentation required: Income Reduction Certification.
- Student requests consideration as an independent student.
Under unusual circumstances such as abuse or abandonment, students will be asked to document why parental information should not be used. The student should make an appointment with the Director of Financial Aid.
- Excessive medical expenses.
Documentation required: Verification of medical expenses paid by family from doctors, hospitals, etc. or copy of tax return verifying itemized deductions, showing medical expenses.
- Other unusual expenses or circumstances.
This may include high transportation costs, school expenses, housing costs, day care expenses, or other unusual expenses or circumstances not described in our policy. The student and/or parent should make an appointment with the Director of Financial Aid.
Any required documentation must be complete before approval will be considered. Documentation of professional judgment decisions will be maintained in the student’s folder.
Professional judgment situations are unique. Circumstances other than those listed may require documentation specific to the situation.
The director of financial Aid has the final authority to make professional judgment decisions.