American Rescue Plan Special Circumstances

A provision included in the American Rescue Plan, signed into law, requires institutions receiving aid from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF III) to conduct outreach to financial aid applicants to make them aware of the opportunity to request financial aid adjustments We understand that there may be situations when a student’s true and current financial situation is not fully reflected by the questions on the FAFSA.

Approval and increased aid eligibility is not guaranteed.

What is professional judgment?

Professional judgment is an opportunity for a student to request a re-evaluation of their financial aid application and aid eligibility. The student will be required to document their special circumstances that have negatively impacted them and/or their family’s financial situation. This could make the family eligible for a financial aid adjustment resulting in a potential higher financial aid award. The FAFSA application looks at a prior years’ income and due to the current pandemic many families have or are experiencing unforeseen changes in income and expenses resulting in less available income overall.

For example, because of COVID-19 some employers have shut down, reduced work hours, furloughed employees and others may not have been able to work due to illness. Required documentation may include unemployment benefits, paystubs, tax returns, etc. along with a letter and verification of your current FAFSA application on file.

Would I qualify?

If your family has experienced a change in income due to unusual, special circumstances, your campus financial aid office has the capability of exercising the use of Professional Judgement and the U.S. Department of Education guided flexibility to re-evaluate your situation for the following reasons:

  • Loss of job or permanent/indefinite reduction of work hours
  • Separation or divorce
  • Personal bankruptcy that occurs during the current financial aid year
  • Death of a member of your immediate family
  • Reduction/loss of child support
  • High non-reimbursed medical expense.
  • Your parents took money out of their pension/retirement plan as a one-time payment to help cover expenses
  • Other documented special circumstances outside of the student’s control

Complete The special conditions Form to Apply