Virginia Commonwealth University

Professional Judgment Policy

Section 479A of the Higher Education Amendments of 1992 authorized the financial aid administrator to exercise Professional Judgment (PJ) on a case-by-case basis for special or unusual circumstances.  The aid administrator will review the documents submitted to increase or decrease data elements used to calculate a student’s expected family contribution (EFC).  These adjustments are permitted because the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) does not afford the opportunity to provide details about special circumstances that could impacts a family’s ability to pay costs associated with attendance.  The documentation is submitted to the PJ committee for review.  All documentation must be submitted before a decision is rendered.  The decisions made by the committee are final; there is no appeal process to the U.S. Department of Education. 

Special Circumstances

Special circumstances are situations that differentiate the student’s finances from other students.  Special circumstances can include but are not limited to:

  • loss of wages (student, spouse or parent)
  • separation or divorce of parent or student after application
  • death of parent or spouse after application
  • dependent care expenses
  • unusually high medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance

In order to have a special circumstance reviewed, the student must consult with their financial aid counselor to ensure that all of the appropriate documentation is collected to submit to the PJ committee.  A professional judgment will not be reviewed until all documentation has been collected.  Students must submit a Change of Income form that can be obtained from the financial aid counselor in conjunction with their supporting documentation. 

Dependency Override

A student may have unusual circumstances that justify a dependency override that updates the students’ status from dependent to independent.  All dependency overrides are made on a case-by case basis along with supporting documentation.  A student must submit a Dependency Override Request Form that can be obtained from a financial aid counselor.  Students who have previously received a dependency override must submit a Dependency Override Reaffirmation Statement. 

Once the documentation has been completely submitted, the financial aid counselor will electronically submit the case to the PJ committee.  The PJ committee will review the documentation and provide the decision to the financial aid counselor.  The financial aid counselor will communicate with the student regarding the decision.  

All change of income cases will complete the verification process prior to any professional judgment decisions. 

Financial Aid

Harris Hall
1015 Floyd Ave., 1st Floor
P.O. Box 843026
Richmond, VA 23284

Phone: (804) 828-6669
Email: Follow this link for email contacts

Hours: Monday - Friday, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.