Can Our Professional Judgment Policy Only Allow For Certain Types Of Requests?

Award Year: 2023-24 KA-36469 Helpfulness Rating 1,430 page views

This guidance is specific to the 2023-24 award year and later.

No. Effective with the 2023-24 award year, Section 479A of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, [20 USC 1087TT] schools may not have a policy that denies all professional judgment (PJ) requests. This also means schools cannot have a policy of denying requests for PJ in only certain areas or circumstances. In other words, you must consider all PJ requests even if you eventually don't approve some of them and even if they will not change the student's expected family contribution (EFC) or Student Aid Index (SAI).

The U.S. Department of Education (ED) provided the following guidance in Dear Colleague Letter GEN-22-15, PJ-Q2:

"May a school have a policy to adjust data elements used in the EFC calculation but not adjust COA components?

No, institutions may not have a blanket policy to deny all special circumstance considerations in one area or category. Institutions must have a reasonable approach for reviewing all special circumstance requests on a case-by-case basis. Institutions may put parameters and limits on special circumstance considerations, but those limits may not result in denial of all special circumstance adjustments in one category or area."

This guidance applies to both special circumstances and unusual circumstances. See AskRegs Q&A, Is There a Difference Between a Special Circumstance and an Unusual Circumstance?

Also see AskRegs Knowledgebase Q&As, Can We Have a Policy To Not Perform Professional Judgment For Any Students?, and, Can a School Have a Deadline For Submitting and Reviewing Professional Judgment Requests?

AskRegs Q&As represent NASFAA's understanding of regulatory and compliance issues. They are FOR INTERNAL USE ONLY. While NASFAA believes AskRegs Q&As are accurate and factual, they have not been reviewed or approved by the U.S. Department of Education (ED). If you should need written confirmation of AskRegs information for audit or program review purposes, please contact your ED School Participation Division. NASFAA shall not be liable for technical or editorial errors or omissions contained herein; nor for incidental or consequential damages resulting from the furnishing, performance, or use of this material.