Fletcher Hall for DEMO

Special and Unusual Circumstances

Professional Judgment

UTC building

What is a professional judgment?

Federal regulations allow limited exceptions or adjustments to the information reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Such exceptions, known as professional judgment, are considered on a case-by-case basis with supporting documentation of your unique circumstances. The school does not have the authority to change the need analysis formula itself or to make direct adjustments to the Student Aid Index (SAI). Instead, the school may make adjustments to the inputs to the formula.

The decision of the financial aid administrator is final. There is no further appeal. By law, neither the school’s president nor the US Department of Education can override the financial aid administrator’s decision. Please note you must be currently enrolled in the aid year for which you are requesting the Professional Judgment for it to be considered.

Review of documents, emails, and other communications are processed in the order in which they are received. Professional judgments take 4-6 weeks for a decision once all documentation is submitted.

pen and paper

What is considered special or unusual circumstance?

Special circumstances are financial changes that have occurred to a student or parent since completing the FAFSA.  Examples include job loss, death of a parent or spouse, divorce or separation.

Unusual circumstances refer to a student’s dependency status, also known as dependency override.  Examples include parental abandonment, incarceration, abuse, neglect, or other severe estrangement.

None of the following conditions, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override:

  1. Parents refuse to contribute to the student's education.
  2. Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
  3. Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  4. Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Financial Aid and Scholarships