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Special Circumstances and Professional Judgment

The Higher Education Act of 1992 allows financial aid administrators to make professional judgment decisions for special or unusual family or student circumstances. These circumstances must be documented and will be analyzed on a case-by-case basis.

Financial Aid Administrators may treat a student with special circumstances differently than the strict application of the methodology would otherwise permit. Adjustments can either increase or decrease a student’s EFC or cost of attendance, specific adjustments may be made to data elements. The reason for the adjustment must relate to that student’s special circumstances and must be documented in the student’s file.

Special Circumstances are specific to each student to include, but not limited to, dependency status override, cost of attendance, unusual medical or dental expenses, changes in income, recent unemployment, change in assets, unusually high child care, etc. In addition, other areas for exercising professional judgment include: certifying additional unsubsidized loans, adjusting satisfactory academic progress requirements, declining to certify a loan application or certifying a loan for a lesser amount, awarding additional funds. Appropriate documentation is required before a decision is rendered.

Please contact a Financial Aid Advisor to discuss your special circumstance.