Professional Judgement/Special Circumstances

The Higher Education Act requires that the FM formula be used for determining eligibility for federal student financial aid programs.

Federal regulations provide financial aid administrators with the authority to use their discretion or professional judgment to adjust, on a case-by-case basis, the cost of attendance, change to dependency status, or the data elements used on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Important to Note

  • A Professional Judgement review does not guarantee additional funding.

Professional Judgement to Change Expected Family Contribution (EFC) for Undergraduate Students

Financial Aid administrators on a case-by-case basis with proper documentation have the discretion to make adjustments, to the data elements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) that impacts a student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) in order to provide a more accurate assessment of a student’s family’s ability to contribute to the cost of education.

The University is permitted to consider special circumstance, including recent unemployment. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has encouraged the use of professional judgment to reflect the financial need of students and their families impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unusual Circumstances that Traditionally Merit Review

  • Loss of employment
  • Substantial change in income
  • Change in financial situation due to separation or divorce
  • Death of custodial parent
  • Death of Spouse for Independent student
  • Loss of benefits

Unusual Circumstances that Traditionally Do Not Merit Review

  • Student already has an Expected Contribution of 0
  • Credit Card debt

Example of PJ Review Request Denied

Family of 3 with 1 in College
Household Income: $40,000
New Household Income: $15,000
EFC 0

Parent 1 Lost job

While eligible for review student already receiving maximum federal aid consideration.

Examples of PJ Review Resulting In Grant Eligibility

Family of 4 with 2 in College
Household Income: $220,784
New Household Income: $ 91,000

Parent 1 lost job and received a distribution from retirement account as part of termination, did not find a new job and only received Unemployment Benefits for 2020.  Based on PJ FAFSA revised to exclude Parent 1’s income and therefore only Parent 2’s income considered in calculation of EFC.

Original EFC = 30,481
New EFC = 5724 
Pell Award - $745 for the year

Family of 3 and 1 in College
Household Income $93,818
New Household Income $68,944

Parent had loss of income due to COVID.  Used difference in earnings from 2019 to 2020.

Original EFC = 12,727
New EFC = 4994 
Pell Award - $1545 for the year

Example of PJ Review Resulting in Change in Federal Loan Eligibility from Unsubsidized to Subsidized

Family of 3 with 1 in College
Household Income:    $164.838
New Household Income:  $118,525

Parent 2 lost their job.

Original EFC = 34,722
New EFC = 17,639

Parent 2 lost job

Example of PJ Review Resulting in No Change to Aid eligibility

Family of 6 with 1 in College
Household Income $159,576
New Household Income $134,576

Parent 1 lost consulting business but is still employed and parent 2 employed. Removed income from consulting business.

Original EFC = 31,729
New EFC = 22,068

Not eligible for a federal Pell Grant. No change in aid eligibility.

Request Process

  1. Call 1-718-990-2000 to request Reconsideration Form
  2. Complete and submit form.
    • Please be sure to complete all required sections of the form.
  3. Submit all supporting documents requested.
    • Incomplete request forms will not be reviewed until all required documents have been received.
    • Additional documents may be requested in support of the review.

Notification Process

Student Financial Services will post a message regarding the status of your request. Please monitor your personal UIS account.

  • If approved changes will be made to the student’s FAFSA and submitted to the U.S. Department of Education and the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will be recalculated.

Dependency Overrides for Undergraduate Students

Financial Aid Administrators have the authority on a case by case basis to change a student’s status from dependent to independent involving unusual cases that result in the dissolution of the family unit.

The U.S. Department of Education has provided guidance regarding situations that that do not merit a dependency override.

Situations that Do Not Merit an Override

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education
  • Parents are unwilling to compete the FAFSA and or provided required documentation for verification
  • Parents do not claim the student
  • Student lives apart from parent
  • Student works and is financially self sufficient

Situations that Do Merit a Review

  • An abusive home environment
  • Incarceration or institutionalization of both parents
  • Married student’s spouse dies

Request Process

Please submit an email to [email protected]  explaining your current situation that merits consideration for a change in dependency status. Please be sure to include current contact information.

Notification Process

A counselor from Student Financial Services will review and respond.

Change to Cost of Attendance

The cost of attendance, also known as the budget, includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, and estimated personal living expenses.  Federal regulations only permit increases to the budget for educational-related expenses incurred during the current academic year.

COMMON REASONS FOR REQUEST

  • Off Campus housing expenses
  • Transportation
  • One Time Computer purchase
  • Student’s childcare expenses for a dependent

A change to a student’s Cost of Attendance does not impact federal grant eligibility, it may result in a change of federal loan eligibility from unsubsidized to subsidize and may increase eligibility, for credit worthy borrowers, for the federal PLUS loan or for private loans.

Request Process

Please visit https://www.stjohns.edu/admission/tuition-and-financial-aid/apply-aid/online-loan-forms to obtain Budget Appeal Form.

Notification Process

Student Financial Services will post a message regarding the status of your request. Please monitor your personal UIS account.