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Cloud County Community College

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Professional Judgment

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Financial Aid Administrators have the authority to take into consideration unique family circumstances not reflected on the application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  Adjustments can be made to the data elements used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or to the cost of education on an individual student basis through Professional Judgement.  If the calculated EFC is at 0, there is no need

Circumstances for Which PJ Adjustments are Allowed and Resulting Actions Taken

An aid administrator may use a PJ on a case-by-case basis to adjust the student’s cost of attendance or the data elements used to calculate the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

Listed below are the circumstances on which a student may request a PJ:

  • Loss of income for student and/or spouse due to divorce, death, change or loss of employment or disability
  •  Student’s change in marital status after original FAFSA was signed and submitted
  •  Loss of income for parent(s) due to divorce, death, change or loss of employment or disability
  •  Lump sum distribution or non-recurring income that inflates adjusted gross income
  •  Major medical expenses not covered by insurance, already paid out-of-pocket
  •  Business or farm debt
  •  Education loan repayment
  •  Tuition payments made for elementary/secondary school costs for young sibling
  •  Child Support Received that has decreased or ended
  •  Parent attending college at least half time in a degree seeking program
  •  Bankruptcy (except Chapter 7 and 11)

 

The following elements may be considered in making adjustments for students who have requested a Professional Judgement:

  • Adjust the parent or student’s (if independent) marital status if necessary
  •  Adjust the family size to eliminate a deceased, divorced, or separated spouse or parent
  • Adjust the number in college for a parent attending college at least half-time in a degree-seeking program
  •  Adjust the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) and/or income tax paid to reflect:

The current year income/taxes of only the surviving parent in the case of a death

The current income/taxes of only the parent with whom the student resides or received the most income from in the past 12 months in the case of a divorce or separation

In the case of an independent student, eliminate income/taxes of the deceased, divorced or separated spouse and use current year estimate for the student

Other factors which warrant adjustments of the AGI and/or income tax paid.

  •  Adjust the student and spouse’s (independent) or parent’s (dependent) income to reflect the current year estimate in the case of lump sum distribution or non-recurring income.

Clarification of Treatment of Divorce, Separation or Death: A correction to this information is done only if the original information submitted on the FASFA was incorrect. Professional Judgement is used to update divorce, separation or death status after the submission of the original application.

Requests for PJ Consideration

Students requesting Professional Judgement, will also be chosen for verification and must provide the following documentation:

  • Request for Professional Judgement form ~ with a check mark beside any situation that may apply
  • Detailed letter of appeal explaining their unusual or special circumstances
  • The required documentation listed for each item the student selected
  • Tax Return Transcript
  • All W-2’s
  • V1 Verification Worksheet

It is the responsibility of the Financial Aid Office to complete the verification of the original information before any adjustments can be made.

Estimated income for the Professional Judgment may be determined based on either calendar or academic year depending on when the event affecting the base year occurred

Professional Judgment requests received after December 31st of the award year will normally require submitting a copy of the federal tax return transcript for that calendar year.

Cloud County Community College follows the federal guidelines, which state that aid administrators cannot use the elements affecting EFC in professional judgment to consider a student independent.

PJ Documentation

The Director of Financial Aid will document all elements changed in the Professional Judgement process and this information will be maintained in the student’s file.

Change in Dependency Status

Students requesting a dependency override should make an appointment with the Financial Aid Director, either in person or by phone, and provide additional documentation as requested.

Dependency overrides will generally be performed for those students who meet one of the following criteria:

  • A student has been involuntarily removed from the parents’ home and support.
  •  The student has resided with and been supported by someone other than their parents—the time will depend on the situation. Usually this applies to students who have “always” lived with a relative who was not a legal guardian.
  • The student is not receiving support from either parent, there is little to no communication with either parent and there has been an issue of abuse or abandonment that led to the alienation of the student from the parent.

The residency of the student or whether or not the parent has claimed the student as a dependent on their federal tax return is not a basis for appeal.

To request an override of the student’s dependency status, the student must submit the following to Cloud County Community College:

  • Dependency Status Change Request Form
  • A letter explaining the student’s circumstances and the current living situation
  • A letter from the student’s teacher, counselor, medical professional, social worker, or clergy who can verify the student’s situation
  • Court documentation and/or police reports
  • IRS Tax Return Transcript for the calendar year used in the FAFSA or use of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
  • If a tax return was not filed, then the Low or No Income Form must be submitted
  • V1 Standard Verification Worksheet

In subsequent years, in lieu of repeated documentation, if the dependency situation remains unchanged, the student must provide a written statement to that effect along with completing the Dependency Status Change Request. New documentation will not be required.

Cloud County Community College follows the federal guidelines which state that aid administrators cannot use professional judgement to consider a student independent solely on the basis of the students’ previous independent status, or because the student is “self supporting”. A dependency override may not be used in the case of parents who are unwilling to provide financial data or support.

The Financial Aid Director reserves the right to make exceptions to this policy in extreme situations.