Professional Judgement

Professional Judgement

Despite all your financial planning and applying for aid to help manage your university costs, sometimes your financial situation can change. For example, that change may be a loss of employment that now affects your ability to cover educational expenses. We may be able to help!

Students in a teaching theater taking notes

Professional Judgement Information

These circumstances can be challenging to deal with, but it does not mean you have to stop your educational pursuits. Below, we offer some insights into how you may receive further assistance to help support the cost of your education. Due to the comprehensive nature of the review process, it will take approximately 4 - 6 weeks for a decision to be made regarding such requests.

Special and Unusual Circumstances

Federal regulations allow limited exceptions or adjustments to information reported on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). These exceptions are known as “Special and/or Unusual Circumstances”. We use “Professional Judgement” to assess such circumstances and determine what additional assistance we may be able to offer you. These situations are considered on a case-by-case basis and must be supported by documentation that you provide. If you think that you have a special or unusual circumstance, please contact our office for more information. 

Adjustment Requests

  • The Student Aid Index (SAI) is an eligibility index that a college can use to determine the amount of need-based financial aid a student is eligible to receive. A special circumstance request is for students that have had a change in their financial situation since the tax year’s income reported on their FAFSA®. 

  • An unusual circumstance is used when a student has experienced a situation that would warrant an override of parental information on the FAFSA®. In most cases, parent information is required even if a student is self-supporting and no longer resides with their parent(s).

    Examples of unusual circumstances are abandonment, abuse, etc. Some situations that do not merit an unusual circumstance include your parents refusing to contribute to your education, their unwillingness to provide information on your FAFSA® or for the verification process, or your demonstrating total self-sufficiency. 

  • Cost of Attendance (COA) adjustment request is to increase your COA (or maximum aid limit). If you have experienced unforeseen expenses during the academic year that are not accounted for in your program's COA, you may request an increase. These unexpected costs can include expenses associated with performing research, specialized computer equipment required for a course, adaptive equipment for disabled students, and etc. To view COA information, please visit Cost of Attendance.

    If the COA adjustment request is approved, the increase may result in additional loan funding. If you have already borrowed the maximum federal student loan limit for your grade level, a COA adjustment request would not be of any benefit to you. The exception would be if you are receiving a scholarship, work study funds, or third-party funds that would exceed what remains in your (current) COA budget for the aid year.