FAFSA Professional Judgment

Special or Unusual Circumstances

The Financial Aid Office of Concordia University has established a process to allow for adjustments to an individual’s federal aid application (FAFSA) based on special or unusual circumstances. When considering the application, the financial aid office considers the availability of funds, the timeliness of the original application for financial aid, the timeliness of the application and the nature of the change in circumstances. It is important to understand that not all changes in circumstances will result in an adjustment to the student’s eligibility. Applications are reviewed once supporting documents are received. Please allow up to 4 weeks to complete. A professional judgment will be determined, and the student will be notified via email. A review does not guarantee an adjustment to your aid and may, in fact, result in a decrease in eligibility.

Special Circumstances refer to financial changes to the household which affect the financial data recorded on the student’s FAFSA. Financial changes considered to be reviewable are:

  • Change in employment status.
  • Change in housing status. 
  • Tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school.
  • Medical, dental, or nursing home expenses not covered by insurance.
  • Child or dependent care expenses 
  • Severe disability of the student or other member of the student’s household. 

Unusual Circumstances refer to conditions that justify a student being considered independent rather than dependent.

  • Human Trafficking, as described in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 
  • Legally granted refugee or asylum status
  • Parental abandonment or estrangement 
  • Student or parental incarceration

In such cases an override may be warranted based upon the student’s individual circumstances. These conditions would also not disqualify a student from being a homeless unaccompanied youth or self-supporting and at risk of homelessness. 

However, none of the conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances meriting a dependency override. 

  • Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education. 
  • Parents will not provide information for the FAFSA or verification. 
  • Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes. 
  • A student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

Required Documentation for all Professional Judgment Requests

All Professional Judgment Requests must include the following documents. Additional documents may be required depending upon the type of circumstance for which you are requesting professional judgment review. Please review the Professional Judgment Request Form for additional documents required. 

  1. Professional Judgment Request Form 
  2. Letter of Explanation - Write a detailed description of the special circumstances that affect your financial situation.
  3. Additional documents specific to your special circumstance – See the professional judgment request form for additional documents you may need to submit.

Upload the completed Professional Judgment Request and other requested documents.

The following adjustments are not considered extenuating circumstances for consideration of a professional judgment request:

  • Car Payments and Car Insurance
  • Credit card payments and unusual expenses related to personal living
  • Filing of Chapter 7 personal bankruptcy
  • Medical Insurance premiums
  • Mortgages and Rent
  • Home equity, IRA, 403B and 401(k) loans
  • Parents will not help pay for college

If you have questions regarding Professional Judgement, please contact: 

Background image for directory listing

Wendy Matulka

Assistant Director of Financial Aid

Student Financial Services