Maintained for Historical Purposes

This resource is being maintained for historical purposes only and is not currently applicable.

Using professional judgment

AwardYear: 1997-1998
Edition: PostSecondary
Part: 2 - - The application process for financial aid
SectionTitle: Using professional judgment

PageNumbers: 39-40

Using professional judgment

You may use your professional judgment, only on a case-by-case
basis, to either increase or decrease one or more of the data elements
used to calculate the EFC. The reason must be documented in the
student's file and it must relate to that student's special circumstances
that differentiate an individual student (not to conditions that
exist for a whole class of students).

A notice on the first page of the FAFSA instructions tells applicants
to notify the financial aid administrator if they have special
circumstances. The FAFSA gives examples of elementary or
secondary school tuition, unusual medical or dental expenses, a
family member who recently became unemployed, or other unusual
circumstances. Professional judgment is not limited to the situations
mentioned (or required in those situations) and could include those
circumstances that were considered to be special conditions in
previous school years: divorce, separation, or the death of a parent
or spouse.

You may not make a direct change to the EFC figure, assessment
rates, or allowances; you may adjust only an actual data item in
keeping with the student's special circumstances. For example, if a
family member is ill, you might adjust the adjusted gross income to
allow for lower earnings in the coming year, or you might adjust
assets to indicate that family savings will be expended on medical
expenses. Because items like medical expenses and tuition do not
appear on the application or the SAR or ISIR, you need to be
familiar with the elements in the formula so your professional
judgment changes are made and documented properly.

If you make an adjustment for a student who may be eligible for a
Federal Pell Grant, the SAR must be used to send the adjusted
information back to the FAFSA processor. (If you are using EDE
services, you may use the corrections function to make the change
electronically--in this case, you will receive the resulting ISIR at the
school, and the student will receive the one-page SAR Information
Acknowledgement.) An adjustment to a line item is made just like a
correction--you report the adjusted amount on Part 2 of the SAR or
ISIR in the column labeled "Write in only new or corrected
information." You must also indicate that an adjustment is being
made in the "School Use Only" box. (See the chart on page 41.)

If you use professional judgment to adjust a SAR line item, the
resulting EFC must be used consistently for all federal student aid
awarded to that student. For example, if the financial aid
administrator adjusts the EFC for purposes of awarding the student's
Federal Pell Grant, that adjusted EFC must also be used to award aid
from the campus-based or FFEL programs.

You can also use professional judgement to adjust the student's cost
of attendance.
Dependency Overrides

As mentioned on page 26, a student sometimes has unusual
circumstances that may justify a dependency status override. You
may override only from dependent to independent. However, if you
find that an independent student is receiving substantial support from
his or her parents, you may adjust one or more of the data elements
on the FAFSA, such as nontaxable income.)

All dependency overrides must be on a case-by-case basis, and the
reason for the adjustment must be documented in the student's file.

To override dependency status on the FAFSA, the student fills out
the gray and white areas of the form (for independent students) and
you then authorize the dependency override by marking the oval for
an override, filling in the school's Title IV Institution Number, and
signing in the "School Use Only" box. A separate letter attached to
the application (in lieu of making the override) is not acceptable.

You may also use the SAR to override a student's dependency status,
using the "School Use Only" box on Part 2. Check box 1 in the
section labeled D/O, fill in the school's Title IV Institution Number,
and sign.

You may also use the SAR or EDE to cancel a dependency override
performed by another financial aid administrator (FAA). Mark box 2
in the section labeled D/O on the SAR or follow the prompts
provided in EDE software.

Last Modified: 08/23/1998