Financial Aid Appeal


The Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA) provides the authority for the financial aid administrator to exercise discretion in a number of areas when a student has special or unusual circumstances. This authority is known as Professional Judgment (PJ). It allows the financial aid administrator to treat a student individually when conditions exist that differentiate that student from a class of students. PJ decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis as the result of examining an individual student’s unique circumstances.



Professional judgment requests are reviewed by Financial Aid Counselors and Financial Aid Office Management staff. Decisions made on professional judgment requests are approved or denied at the reviewing parties' (FAO) discretion based on the information provided by the requesting party (student). Decisions made by the financial aid administrator reviewing the case are final and can neither be appealed to the Institution nor to the U.S. Department of Education (ED).

Professional judgment requests will be considered after the awarding process for the aid year. Students who are flagged for Federal, State, or Institutional Verification must complete all necessary verification requirements prior to being considered for Professional Judgment.  

Professional Judgement Appeal have a 4-6 weeks processing time upon submission of completed documentation. 

The FAFSA Simplification Act distinguishes between different categories of professional judgment by amending section 479A of the HEA:

  • Special Circumstances refer to the financial situations (loss of a job, etc.) that justify an aid administrator adjusting data elements in the COA or in the SAI calculation.
  • Unusual Circumstances refer to the conditions that justify an aid administrator making an adjustment to a student’s dependency status based on a unique situation (e.g., human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abandonment, incarceration), more commonly referred to as a Dependency Override. 


Click here to learn more about the Cost of Attendance and the Change in Financial Circumstance Process

Click here to learn more about the Dependency Override Process


Please do not wait to reach out to us if you would like to be considered for an Appeal. The Department of Education requires our office to process all aid (including those resulting from appeals) by the last day of the semester that you are enrolled. To ensure that we are meeting Federal Guidelines, please contact us with your request no later than one month prior to the last day of the semester that you are currently enrolled.