Professional Judgment Policies and Procedures
Due to varying circumstances, students and parents often find the information they provided on the FAFSA no longer realistically reflects their ability to provide educational support. Since FAFSA is using tax data from 2 years prior (prior-prior year), there are a couple of options when looking at more accurately calculating the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). Students with special circumstances may choose to submit a Professional Judgment (PJ) appeal to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships requesting that their situation be reviewed.
Examples of professional judgment reasons include, but are not limited to the following:
- The family has incurred extraordinary medical/dental expenses beyond what is claimed through a Schedule A on federal taxes.
- The student’s parent has retired.
- The student’s or parent(s)’ income has significantly reduced from the tax filing year that FAFSA is using.
- The student or parent(s) no longer receives untaxed benefits such as child support, or other sources of income, which was previously indicated on the FAFSA application.
- The parent or student has received a one-time disbursement of funds (i.e. severance package, bonus, etc...) which were unavailable for educational expenses.
It is EIU’s policy that a Professional Judgment will not be processed due to a student’s change in marital status or a parent in college.
Professional Judgement Review request
To request a Professional Judgment, please submit the attached appeal form(s) and additional documentation to support your request to the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. Tax information (tax return transcript, 1040 tax forms or the IRS Data Retrieval tool) from the original FAFSA data (prior-prior year) are REQUIRED for all families who request a professional judgement review.
Please include the student’s name and EIU E# on all documentation. Upon receipt and review of the appeal form, additional documentation may be requested as needed. Please check your EIU Panthermail and PAWS account frequently for updates and additional requests.
The financial aid office will begin accepting requests for Professional Judgement review on March 1st each year for the upcoming award year. Please note, a successful appeal does not guarantee additional aid, and sometimes additional aid is not immediately available.
Initial Review Process
Once the appeal form is received, the office will do a preliminary review to determine if the families change in circumstances has the potential to yield a significant increase to the student’s need-based financial aid. If the preliminary review does not indicate a reduction in Expected Family Contribution to below $10,000, the office reserves the right to deny the request for processing a professional judgement change. Please note: the EFC can also never be reduced below 0 (Zero), so any student with a zero EFC will have their request denied.
This initial review process could take approximately 2 weeks and will conclude with the student being issued a notification in their PAWS account if the professional judgement request was denied. For those denied without review, the PJDD (Professional Judgement Denial) notification will be sent indicating that the information submitted does not meet the criteria for a Professional Judgment appeal. When an initial review reveals no change to the student’s financial aid awards, the PJDN (Professional Judgement Decision No Change) notification will be sent indicating that the PJ will not be processed any further as there is no benefit to the student. If the appeal is denied, additional requests for Professional Judgement reviews for the same circumstance will not be reviewed.
Processing of Professional Judgement Appeals
The requests that are determined to possibly yield a significant change to the student’s financial aid are processed in the order in which they are received. Even though these applications are identified as having the potential to yield a significant increase to the student’s financial aid, the Office of Financial Aid cannot ever guarantee that an increase will occur. Please allow at least 4 weeks for the completion of the Professional Judgement process.
The Professional Judgement Appeal deadline for students enrolled only fall semester is November 1st. The deadline for students enrolled spring semester only or for both fall and spring semesters is April 1st of the award year. Appeals received after the deadline will be denied and notified through the PAWS account using the PJDP (Professional Judgement Deadline Passed) notification.
Estimating Current Year Income
In the interest of providing the most accurate information possible to the Department of Education, it is best practice to use actual tax information as opposed to estimating current year income information; however, there are certain limited circumstances which allow the office to use estimated income information. The Financial Aid Office will only accept estimated income for the current tax year if (ALL must apply):
- There are 3 or more months of actual income data available AND
- In the case of lost employment, it has been a minimum of 60 days since the loss of employment has occurred AND
- Using the prior year’s ACTUAL tax information will not provide an accurate picture of the families ability to pay educational expenses (ex. Loss of employment took place in the current year)
In the limited case that family income is estimated, please note that no additional adjustments will be made when income was over or under-estimated. For future FAFSA years, the ACTUAL tax data will be used which could yield a difference in the amount of financial aid received from year-to-year.
Professional Judgment Forms
Electronic signatures are currently not accepted for our institutional forms (listed on this page). ; All signatures MUST be handwritten. ; If you are connected to a printer, you may type in other information and print the form. ; Some information cannot be handled in this way, such as signature/date lines, and any information provided by or requiring the signature of another person.
All forms are .pdf documents. ; Get the latest free Adobe Reader here.