Professional Judgment (PJ) is tool granted by Congress that allows financial aid professionals to make certain adjustments to the federal financial aid formula (FM).
Professional Judgment protocols used for Institutional Methodology (IM) are substantially the same as those used for FM.
PJ adjustments are subjective and originate from information you provide and document in a letter of special circumstances or a financial aid appeal letter. They almost always involve extra costs and must arise due to special circumstances.
The intent of PJ is to allow the financial aid office to subjectively adjust aspects of your financial aid application to more accurately reflect your ability to contribute towards your education costs.
Professional judgment decisions are always on a case-by-case basis and considered only for unusual circumstances. In almost every case you will need to supply the financial aid office with documentation to support your appeal.
Professional judgment decisions are school and academic year specific. Schools are not bound by PJ decisions from a different school. Schools are not bound by a PJ decision it made in a prior year. Every school and every academic year is a fresh start!
PJ’s are broken into three categories:
· Changes to your cost of attending the school:
o Excess housing costs
o Health Insurance
o Study abroad costs
o Computer & software costs
· Changes to your family demographics and/or finances:
o Parent enrolled in college
o Sibling enrolled less than half-time
o Large high school tuition costs for sibling(s)
o Large unreimbursed medical costs
o Disabled sibling or parent
o Support of extended family members (grandparents, aunts/uncles)
o ROTH IRA conversion
o Loss of a job
o Death of a parent
o Early withdrawal of retirement funds due to unusual family finances
· Changes to your dependency status:
o From dependent to independent student
The school is the final decision maker with respect to Professional Judgment decisions. Since there is no independent appeal authority, carefully preparing and filing your financial aid appeal is very important. See our Appeal Awards page more detailed information on when and how to file an appeal.