Professional Judgment and Special Circumstances

Sometimes special circumstances can impact a student’s financial aid situation, including certain living arrangements or family situations that may change during your enrollment. This may result in the need to clarify your situation with the Office of Student Financial Aid, or have adjustments made to your financial aid and/or Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) data. This is known as a special circumstance or a professional judgment.

Examples of special circumstances or professional judgment may include:

  • Loss of Employment
  • Loss of Income
  • Separation or Divorce
  • Unexpected Significant Medical Expenses
  • Death in the Family
  • One-Time Payment Received
  • Increased Living Expenses
  • Dependency Override

The adjustments could impact the student's eligibility for additional financial aid. Financial aid adjustments do not guarantee additional funding. 

If you feel like you have been impacted by one of the examples above, we recommend you contact our office so we may determine how best to assist you.

Please note, if you already have a -0- Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for your current FAFSA, you have already received the highest financial aid need. Submitting any of the professional judgment forms may not result in any additional aid or may result in additional loan eligibility only.

Professional Judgment Situations

Loss of Employment/Loss of Income

FAFSA data is based on 2019 income. If income has changed since then, we can review to see if using current income would positively impact a student's financial aid eligibility.


If a dependent student has parents who have separated or divorced or an independent student has separated or divorced, we may be able to adjust the FAFSA to reflect the current family size and income.

Unexpected/Significant Medical Expenses

If the student and/or student's family has incurred unexpected/significant medical expenses not covered by insurance, adjustments to the FAFSA data might by possible. Adjustments are not based on dollar-per-dollar expenses.

Death in the Family

If a death in the family has occurred, the FAFSA may be updated to update the current family size and the loss of income.

One-Time Payment Received

Income/taxes for a student and/or parent may have included a one-time payment for a pension or IRA or annuities or settlement. As a result, the tax return used on the FAFSA may not reflect the normal annual income. FAFSA data may be adjusted as a result.

Financial Aid Cost of Attendance (Financial Aid Budget)

A student may incur living expenses that exceed the assigned estimated financial aid budget. Typically, increases to cost of attendance result in additional loan eligibility. 


  • Increased monthly rent/living expenses
  • Childcare expenses
  • Interview travel
  • One-time expenses (car repair, medical, etc.)

Dependency Override

In unique situations, a dependent undergraduate student may qualify to have parent information excluded from the FAFSA. 


  • Death of parent(s)
  • Foster youth
  • Documented abuse/abandonment

Link to forms: Financial Aid Forms