Professional Judgment

Financial aid administrators are allowed to adjust for special or unusual circumstances. Circumstances requiring professional judgment decisions must be analyzed on a case-by-case basis and must be documented.

The FAFSA Simplification Act distinguishes between different categories of professional judgment by amending section 479A of the HEA.

Special Circumstances refer to the financial situations (loss of a job, etc.) that justify an aid administrator adjusting data elements in the COA or in the EFC calculation. The family's estimated current-year income must be substantially less than its previous income in order for JCC's Financial Aid Office to re-evaluate eligibility for federal, state, and institutional aid.

The following are examples of reasons a student may request a Professional Judgment:

  • tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school
  • unusual medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance
  • loss of employment
  • loss of nontaxable income or benefits
  • separation or divorce
  • death
  • other circumstances (Example: One-time income from 401K distribution)

Unusual Circumstances refer to the conditions that justify an aid administrator making an adjustment to a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation (e.g., human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abandonment, incarceration), more commonly referred to as a dependency override.

Contact the Financial Aid Office to discuss if your situation would qualify for an adjustment.