Professional Judgment (PJ)

Analysis of a student's need for federal student aid is based on a standardized assessment of family financial strength relative to all other aid applicants. Sometimes, however, a student or family experiences unusual circumstances that make the standardized approach unsuitable. In such individual cases, with adequate documentation, a financial aid administrator may use his or her professional judgment to override the student’s dependency status, adjust the data used to calculate the expected family contribution, or revise the student's cost of attendance to assess that student's need more accurately. Professional judgment may also be used to deny or reduce eligibility for Direct Loans, or allow Direct Loans in cases where parents refuse to cooperate with need analysis.

Related terms: Expected Family Contribution; Cost of Attendance; Need Analysis

See also Subtopics for more specific references.

2021-22 FSA Handbook, Vol. AVG PDF

2020-21 FSA Handbook, Vol. AVG PDF

College Board Professional Judgment Tip Sheets (College Board ) Web URL

Findings from May 2021 Professional Judgment Survey (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) PDF

Monograph #26: Professional Judgment in Eligibility Determination and Need Analysis (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) PDF

Professional Judgment AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&As (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) Web URL

Professional Judgment Self-Study Guide (National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators) Web URL

Using Professional Judgment In Financial Aid To Advance Racial Justice and Equity (The Education Trust) PDF