Professional Judgment and Appeals

Financial Aid

Financial Aid 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, or circumstances may have changed.

When these situations arise, we may re-evaluate a student’s aid eligibility based on current circumstances using the Professional Judgment (PJ) process. Students should describe the circumstance in detail and must submit supporting documentation along with their request. A processed FAFSA and completed verification, if selected, must be on file before a PJ can be considered.

Types of Professional Judgment

The following are reasons for which a student may request Professional Judgment under special circumstances:

Expected Family Contribution (EFC) Changes 

  • Loss of income (present income is different than what was reported on the FAFSA)
  • Death of a parent or the Independent student’s spouse
  • Divorce/legal separation of parents/Independent student and spouse
  • One-time income removal (e.g. inheritance, IRA distribution, retroactive lump-sum payment)
  • Private elementary/secondary school tuition expenses
  • Child support reduction or change
  • Alimony reduction or change
  • Non-elective medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance

Cost of Attendance (COA) Increases

  • Dependent care costs
  • Computer purchase
  • Costs associated with a disability
  • Non-elective medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance

Unusual Circumstances - Dependency Override Requests

  • You are a Dependent student with children and/or other legal dependents
  • You were a ward of the court and/or in foster care (after the age of 13)
  • You were in a legal guardianship and/or you were an emancipated minor
  • You were designated as unaccompanied homeless youth
  • Your parents are incarcerated
  • You left home due to an abusive family environment
  • You have no contact with your parents and are unable to locate them

The documents required are listed below. Once the PJ has been reviewed additional documentation may be requested.

Professional Judgment Request and Required Documents

Loss of Employment 

  • 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/ending dates, if applicable)
  • Latest pay stub from new employment (if applicable)
  • Retirement pay statement (if applicable)

Death of a parent or spouse

  • Death certificate for parent or spouse
  • W-2’s for surviving parent or independent student

Divorce/legal separation of parents, or spouse     

  • Copy of divorce decree or attorney letter stating date of separation
  • W-2’s and/or income and asset documents for the coming year for supporting parent or independent student

One-time income removal    

  • Documentation of one-time income including type and dollar amount
  • Statements and/or receipts showing how funds were spent, invested, or rolled over

Private elementary/secondary tuition expenses    

  • Copy of receipts for the current academic year (net tuition paid after financial aid and/or discounts)

Child support reduction or change                

  • Court documents showing YTD payments received and termination date (if applicable)

Alimony reduction or change                         

  • Court documents showing YTD payments received and termination date (if applicable)

Dependent care costs          

  • Letter on letterhead from licensed childcare facility listing child(ren) and cost
  • Receipts or YTD paid statement (if paid in advance)

Computer purchase  

  • Receipt for computer purchase
  • Maximum allowance is $1,300


  • Documentation of disability diagnosis
  • Documentation of related costs (e.g. transportation, equipment, supplies)

Non-elective medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance

  • Documentation of out-of-pocket expenses (highlight your portion of payment made and provide itemized totals for unreimbursed amounts)

Dependent student with children and/or other legal dependents 

  • Copy of child’s birth certificate
  • Proof of support for dependents (e.g. paystub showing YTD income, SNAP benefits, outside support received)

Ward of the court and/or foster care              

  • Documentation showing ward of the court status or placement in foster care system

Legal guardianship and/or emancipated minor      

  • Court documents showing legal guardianship or emancipation

Unaccompanied homeless youth                  

  • Documentation showing unaccompanied homeless youth determination

Parents are incarcerated

  • Documentation of incarceration

Left home due to abusive family environment       

  • Evidence of break in family (e.g. police reports, child services involvement, counseling)
  • Two third-party letters attesting to your circumstance (e.g. school counselor, clergy member, coach, social worker, medical professional)

No contact with parents and unable to locate        

  • Two third-party letters attesting to your circumstance (e.g. school counselor, clergy member, coach, social worker, medical professional)
  • Supporting documentation (e.g. police reports, school emergency contact information, court documents)

Submitting a professional Judgment Request 

  • Log into the Financial Aid Portal using your Barry University email address and password. If you haven’t already done so, please verify the required information to create an account.
  • Select +- Request (upper right-hand corner)
  • Click the + next to the type of Professional Judgment you want to request
  • Type in a brief explanation for the request (e.g. "I am requesting a PJ because my parent lost their job."), and hit submit to create a task (it will appear as a tab at the top of the screen)
  • Follow the instructions to complete the webform and upload supporting documentation

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.

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