What is professional judgment?
When there are unusual situations or circumstances that impact your federal student aid eligibility, federal regulations give a financial aid administrator discretion or professional judgment (PJ) on a case-by-case basis and with adequate documentation to make adjustments to the data elements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form that impact your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) to gain a more accurate assessment of your family's ability to contribute to your cost of education.
The 2023-2024 FAFSA requires that students (and parents, if the student is dependent for federal aid purposes) use the 2021 tax year to answer the income section(s) of the FAFSA. Given the time lapse that exists between the requested tax year and the current tax year, income situations can be significantly different. In an effort to help students who experience a significant change in financial situation, professional judgements are permitted. Ultimately, the goal of a professional judgement is to gain up to a full Pell Grant when the student would otherwise be ineligible. With this in mind, if a student already has a full Pell Grant, there is no benefit to going through the PJ process.
If you, the student, or your parents (if a dependent student), have experienced a significant change in financial situation since the 2021 tax year, please email the following to the Interim Director of Financial Aid, Leah Paxton, at firstname.lastname@example.org:
- Attach a signed letter detailing the circumstance(s), including dates of relevant importance, such as when you or a parent became unemployed/lost income.
- Submit a completed 2023-2024 Verification Worksheet found here. You can disregard, at this time, the request for a tax transcript on page 3 of the Verification Worksheet.
- If you received Unemployment Compensation, please submit a copy of your Unemployment Compensation history and statement.