Professional Judgment and Appeals

Occasionally, unique circumstances influence income for students and/or families. These circumstances have an impact on the ability to pay for college. Students and / or families may need to indicate special circumstances that may not be evident on the FAFSA.

A processed FAFSA and completed verification, if selected, must be on file before special circumstances can be considered. A letter from the student requesting an appeal with an explanation and supporting documentation is required as indicated below. Turn all required documentation in to the Office of Financial Aid.

The following are conditions/reasons for which a student may request a professional judgment (PJ). The documents required are listed below and may not be the only documents needed once the PJ has been reviewed.

  1. Death of a parent or the independent student's spouse.
    • A copy of the death certificate
    • W2’s for independent student or for surviving parent of dependent student.

  2. Loss of employment by independent student/spouse/parent.
    • Letter from previous employer on company letterhead showing date of termination.
    • Copy of final pay stub showing YTD earnings.
    • Statement from Unemployment Office stating benefits and beginning and ending dates if applicable.
    • If you have found new employment, please provide last 2-3 paystubs
    • Retirement pay statement if applicable

  3. Loss of earnings due to disability.
    • Disability documentation from physician and any documentation regarding disability benefits you receive or will receive.
    • Earnings up to the last day of employment

  4. Loss of untaxed income and benefits.
    • Documentation certifying loss of benefits or untaxed income.

  5. Divorce or legal separation of parent or student
    • A copy or the Divorce Decree and/or a letter from the attorney stating date of separation.
    • W2’s and/or income and asset documents for the coming year for Independent student or supporting parent.

  6. One time income (inheritance, IRA distribution, retroactive lump-sum payment, etc.)
    • Documentation of one-time income including type and dollar amount.
    • Statement and receipts showing how funds were spent, invested, or rolled over.
    • *Please be aware that some expenses will not be approved.

  7. Non-elective medical or dental expense not covered by insurance.
    • Receipts of medical and dental payments NOT covered by insurance. (Highlight your portion of payment & provide itemized totals on unreimbursed amount.)

  8. Private Elementary and secondary education Net tuition, after any financial aid/discounts
    • Copy of receipt from elementary/secondary school for this academic year.

  9. Workers compensation
    • Documentation from the Bureau of WC stating date of benefit, termination date (if applicable), and total amount received for current year.

  10. Child Support
    • Court documentation showing payments received, termination date (if applicable), and total amount received for current year.

  11. Alimony
    • Court documentation showing payments received, termination date (if applicable), and total amount received for current year.

  12. Cost of attendance increase
    • Dependent Care Costs - A letter from the childcare facility which lists the child(ren), the cost, and the provider license number. Receipts and/or year-to-date childcare paid statement (if paid in advance).
    • Computer purchase – copies of receipt for purchase.

  13. Dependency Override
    • Court documents showing student is in a legal guardianship or ward of court.
    • Proof of support for dependent(s), SNAP benefits, proof of income.
    • Evidence of a permanent break in the family, police reports, child services, counseling, etc.

  14. Other
    • Documentation as appropriate for situation.

If it is determined that you may benefit from an adjustment, corrections to your FAFSA will be made electronically by the Financial Aid Office and sent to the Federal Processor. Once the correction is made by the U. S. Department of Education, the Financial Aid Office will notify you of the change.