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 may experience special circumstances and/or unusual circumstances that make the standardized approach unsuitable. In such individual cases, with adequate documentation, a financial aid administrator may use their 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, dependency overrides, or allow Direct Loans in cases where parents refuse to cooperate with need analysis.

The Higher Education Act prohibits ED from regulating professional judgment.

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