Change in Circumstance (CIC) 

HEA Sec. 479(a) provides authority for a financial aid administrator (FAA) to use Professional Judgment (PJ), on a case-by-case basis, with adequate documentation to adjust students’ cost of attendance or the data used to calculate their EFC. An FAA’s decision regarding adjustments is final and cannot be appealed to the Department of Education.

The reason for the adjustment must be documented (by a third party if possible), and it must relate to the special circumstance(s) that make the student’s situation different from the norm. The reasoning cannot be based on conditions that exist for a whole class of students.

The Higher Education Act identifies several specific examples that warrant special circumstances. These examples are intended to provide the types of circumstances that may qualify for a professional judgment.

Financial aid administrators are not limited to these circumstances, nor are they required to use professional judgment in these circumstances, and should review each family's situation on a case by case basis.

These specific examples include:

  • tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school
  • medical or dental expenses paid, but not covered by insurance
  • unusually high child care costs
  • recent unemployment (student, spouse, and/or parent of dependent student)

Please note the following before starting the process:

  • Any student currently not meeting Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) must submit a SAP appeal, and be approved for continued federal aid, prior to a professional judgment request being considered.
  • Any student who has been selected for verification must complete the process prior to a professional judgment request being considered.
  • Students with a zero EFC (expected family contribution) will not have their professional judgment request reviewed as the student is already eligible for the maximum amount of federal aid.
  • Submission and approval of a Professional Judgment request does not guarantee that there will be a change in the student’s federal financial aid eligibility. 
  • Professional Judgment requests with missing documentation will not be reviewed until receipt of all requested documentation. 
  • Additional supporting information may be requested as needed.

If you feel you have unusual circumstances that may provide a better picture of your need for financial aid, please see a financial aid officer at your local campus or call 727-791-2485.  

 

Dependency Override (DOR)  

HEA Sec. 480(d)(7) provides authority for a financial aid administrator (FAA) to do dependency overrides, on a case-by-case basis, with adequate documentation for students with unusual circumstances. However, none of the conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances that are eligible for a dependency override:

 1.  Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education.

 2.  Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.

 3.  Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.

 4.  Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

Unusual circumstances do include abandonment by parents, an abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety, or the student being unable to locate their parents. In such cases a dependency override might be warranted.

Documentation is critical to the dependency override process. The documentation must support the student’s appeal and should in almost all cases originate from a third party with knowledge of the student’s unusual circumstances.

Please note the following before starting the process.

  • Dependency status change requests with missing documentation will not be reviewed until receipt of all requested documentation. 
  • Additional supporting information may be requested as needed.

If you feel you have unusual circumstances that justify a dependency status change request, please see a financial aid officer at your local campus or call 727-791-2485.