Professional Judgements

Financial Aid Administrators have the authority to take into consideration unique family circumstances not reflected on the application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Students with special circumstances or unusual circumstances can request a Professional Judgement (PJ) and a Financial Aid Administrator may use PJ on a case-by-case basis to adjust the following:

  • Student's Cost of Attendance
  • FAFSA Data Elements used to calculate the Student's Expected Family Contribution (EFC)/Student Aid Index (SAI)
  • Student's Dependency Status

The 2022-2023 FAFSA requires 2020 tax information. The 2023-2024 FAFSA requires 2021 tax information. The Department of Education recognizes that many people may experience a change in their financial situations between that time and when they are actually attending school and that the information reported on the FAFSA may not accurately reflect a student's current ability to pay.  If this situation applies to you and your family, please contact the Financial Aid Office to inquire about a Professional Judgement (PJ).

Professional Judgement Request Deadlines:

PJ requests will not be processed after classes have ceased for the Academic Year OR after the student has ceased enrollment.

A PJ request does not guarantee approval or an increase in aid eligibility.

Special Circumstances PJ - Cost of Attendance

Special Circumstances for which a student may request PJ to adjust to the Cost of Attendance based on additional or extra charges for the items listed:

  • Course Fees, Books, Course Materials, Supplies, and Equipment
  • Food & Housing
  • Computer Purchase
  • Transportation
  • Dependent Care
  • Miscellaneous Expenses

Students requesting a Special Circumstances PJ to adjust Cost of Attendance must provide the following documentation:

  • Cost of Attendance Adjustment Request Form
  • Required documentation as outlined on request form

Special Circumstances PJ - FAFSA Data Elements

Special Circumstances for which a student may request a PJ to adjust FAFSA data elements may include but are not limited to:

  • 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
  • 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

Students requesting a Special Circumstances PJ to adjust FAFSA data elements must provide the following documentation:

  • Request for Special Circumstances PJ form
  • Detailed letter of appeal explaining their special circumstances and reason for appeal
  • The required documentation listed for each item the student selected on the Request form

Unusual Circumstances PJ - Change in Dependency Status 

Unusual Circumstances for which a student may request a PJ to adjust the student’s dependency status:

  • 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 parent(s)—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.

Students requesting an Unusual Circumstances PJ to adjust student's dependency status must provide the following documentation:

  • Unusual Circumstances PJ 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 or police reports

Beginning with the 23-24 Award Year, CCCC will presume that any student who obtained a dependency override due to an Unusual Circumstances PJ to be independent for each subsequent award year unless the student notifies or informs the Financial Aid Office that their Unusual Circumstances have changed or if the school receives conflicting information regarding the students independence status. 

Cloud County Community College follows federal guidelines which state that aid administrators cannot use Professional Judgment to consider a student Independent solely on the basis of the student being “self supporting”, not living with their parent(s), and/or taxes being independently filed from their parent(s)/not claimed on a parent's tax return.

In a case of a parent(s) refusing to provide their information for a student's FAFSA (without a situation of abuse/neglect/abandonment being present), the student may be eligible to receive ONLY Unsubsidized Loans by providing sufficient documentation.

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

For further information on Professional Judgments and Change in Dependency Status:

23-24 Professional Judgement Policy