Did you know the Financial Aid Office can review the student’s federal aid eligibility in a process called Professional Judgment

Professional Judgment is the ability of a financial aid administrator to change a student’s financial aid based on unusual circumstances. Circumstances may include a decrease in income, change in family size, loss of assets, unusual expenses, etc. Adjustments submitted for consideration must be documented and reasonable and are on a case-by-case basis.

Below are examples to include, but not limited to, as reasons to submit a professional judgment request:

  • Unusual high childcare or dependent care expenses, medical or dental cost
  • Changes to dependency status
  • Changes in a family's reported income
  • Death or disability of a wage earner
  • Separation/divorce of the student's parents
  • Separation/divorce of the student
  • One-time taxable income


A student may request an income adjustment when their current income is significantly less than the base year income used on the FAFSA. With proper documentation, the financial aid administrator can change the income to better reflect a student’s current circumstance.

Circumstances that are NOT CONSIDERED for an income adjustment include, but are not limited to gambling earnings, standard living expenses, car payments, credit card or other personal debts, and vacation expenses.

Documentation may include a current check stub, termination notice, proof of unemployment, letters/emails from current or previous employers, etc.

Graduate students are not eligible for need-based grants or need-based loans; therefore, an Income Adjustment Request is not necessary. 

> Income Adjustment Form download


Cost of Attendance (COA) Adjustments allow you to request to your COA increased due to extenuating costs such as dependent care expenses, one-time computer purchase, disability-related expenses not paid for by an agency or the school, study abroad program cost, and medical/dental expenses paid out-of-pocket during the current academic year. 

Because the current Need Analysis formula includes allowances for different expenses, the students actual cost must be greater than the allowance that already exists. These costs should be something that is out of the control of the student, rather than a choice by the student (i.e. expensive car payments, or choosing to live in an expensive house would not be considered).  

These expenses only increase your COA to allow you to receive additional loan funds.  They do not affect your eligibility for a Federal Pell Grant.  Check with the Financial Aid Office to see if you already have the maximum annual loan amount. 

> Cost of Attendance Adjustment Form download


A dependent student whose parent refuses to complete the Parental Information section on the FAFSA, may be able to receive a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan only.  Students in this situation cannot receive a Federal Pell Grant or a Federal Subsidized Loan. 

> Parental Declaration of Non-support Form download


Students may request a dependency override so an otherwise dependent student can fill out the FAFSA as an independent student. Valid cases for a dependency override must involve unusual circumstances. An unusual circumstance includes abandonment by parents, an abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety, or the student being unable to locate his/her parents, human trafficking, being legally granted refugee or asylum status, or parent incarceration.

However, none of the conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override:

 A student does not live with his/her parents

  • The student’s parents do not claim the student on their taxes
  • The student does not receive any financial support from the parents
  • The student’s parents refuse to fill out their portion of the FAFSA
  • The student is completely self-supporting
  • Parents refuse to contribute to a student’s education

> Dependency Override Form download


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