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Professional Judgment

 

There are instances when a student’s Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) may not reflect the family’s current situation. These are special circumstances that can be considered that may impact the student’s financial aid eligibility. In these rare cases, a financial aid administrator may exercise professional judgment to adjust the student’s Cost of Attendance or the data that determines the student’s Expected Family Contribution.

 

There must be a significant change to the family’s income to be considered for a Professional Judgment.  Commonly, the reduction in family income is a result of one or more of the following scenarios:

  • An extended period of loss or change in employment  and/ or  significant change in income
  • Divorce or separation
  • Death of a parent or spouse
  • Reduction in child support
  • Unusual out-of-pocket medical and/or dental expenses that exceed 11% of the Family’s Adjusted Gross Income 

 

A Professional Judgment appeal may also be submitted for consideration for Cost of Attendance increases for unusual expenses incurred for educational purposes.  Adjustments in Cost of Attendance are generally limited to the following situations:

  • Costs associated with a student’s disability
  • Child care expenses for a dependent child of a student
  • One-time purchase of a computer for educational expenses
  • One-time costs of professional licensure required for a student’s major

 

Professional Judgments appeals are reviewed on a case-by-case basis, and require a letter of explanation and supporting documentation.  Professional Judgment forms are available in our office, MH 120.

 

The chart below lists the type of supporting documentation needed for various categories of Professional Judgment:

Reason For
Professional Judgment
Petition

Documents Required

Loss or Change of Employment and/or Income

  • Statement on letterhead indicating last date of employment
  • Copy of the last paycheck including any vacation pay, severance, bonuses, or tips received
  • Documentation of  gross income of person whose employment status changed for 2015
  • Members of the military must submit a copy of the DD214 and a LES showing taxable and untaxed income
  • Documentation of any type of income being received including: workman’s compensation, payments from 401(k) or 403(b) plans, financial contribution made by individuals outside of the household
Divorce or Separation
  • Copy of divorce decree
  • Statement from the family law attorney indicating the date of separation or proof of separation
  • Documentation of any alimony or child support being received or paid out
Death of a Parent or Spouse
  • Death certificate of the deceased individual
  • Copy of final paycheck
  • Documentation of any death benefits received
Disability
  • Documentation of disability diagnosis 
  • Documentation of costs related to student’s disability ex. Personal assistance, transportation, equipment, or supplies (These costs cannot be provided by other agencies to be considered for a Professional Judgment.) 
Reduction in Child Support
  • Documentation of the total amount of child support expected for each child
Unusual Medical/Dental Expenses
  • Documentation of paid out- of- pocket medical expenses
  • Copy of Schedule A (tax form)
Elementary/Secondary Tuition Expenses
  • Proof of tuition expenses paid for the current academic year on school letterhead
Dependent Care  Expenses
  • Proof of dependent care expenses paid for the current academic year on letterhead
Computer Purchase
  • Proof of cost of computer required for educational purposes or proof of purchase (This is a one-time adjustment.)
Professional Licensure
  • Proof of costs associated with professional licensure or proof of payment (This is a one-time adjustment. Preparatory coursework cannot be included.)

Note: An approved Professional Judgment Appeal may not result in a change to the student’s financial aid award package.

 

 
   
   
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