Professional Judgment & Dependency Overrides

Report
Jon Erickson, Director of Financial Aid | The College of St. Scholastica
Jody O’Connor, Senior Counselor of One Stop Student Services | University of Minnesota Duluth
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Higher Education Act provides authority for financial aid administrators to
exercise discretion in a number of areas
Often used in cases of either dependency overrides or income/data element
adjustments.
Allows the financial aid administrator to treat a student individually when the
student has special circumstances that are not sufficiently addressed by the
standard application approach.
Special circumstances are conditions that differentiate an individual student
from a class of students, rather than conditions that exist across a class of
students.
“(a) IN GENERAL---Nothing in this part shall be interpreted
as limiting the authority of the financial aid administrator, on
the basis of adequate documentation, to make adjustments
on a case-by-case basis to the cost of attendance or the
values of the data items required to calculate the expected
student or parent contribution (or both) to allow for
treatment of an individual eligible applicant with special
circumstances”
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Dependency Overrides
Cost of Attendance
Expected Family Contribution (Special Circumstance)
Unsubsidized loan eligibility
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The federally mandated regulations are based on the
premise that the student and family have the primary
responsibility to meet the educational costs of a post
secondary education.
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The level of contribution is based on ability to pay vs.
willingness to pay
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Financial Aid administrators may do case-by-case basis for
students with unusual circumstances. PJ is used by the aid
administrator.
“”Unusual circumstances””
Abusive family environment
Abandonment by parents
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You may make an otherwise dependent student, independent.
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You may NOT make an independent student, dependent.
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Every year an appeal must be processed to affirm that the
unusual circumstance still exists; even if student is still attending
your institution.
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46. Were you born before January 1, 1991?
47. As of today, are you married? (Also answer “Yes” if you are separated but not divorced.)
48. At the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as
an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, graduate certificate, etc.)?
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49. Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
50. Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
51. Do you now have or will you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July
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52. Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half
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53. At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a
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1, 2014 and June 30, 2015?
of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2015?
dependent or ward of the court?
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54. As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?
55. As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in legal guardianship?
56. At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you
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57. At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program
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58. At any time on or after July 1, 2013, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional
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were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied
youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at risk of being homeless?
living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless or were self-supporting and at
risk of being homeless?
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Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education
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Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification
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Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes
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Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency
(page 123 of FSA Handbook)
Effective with the 2009-2010 aid year, a financial aid
administrator “may” rely on a dependency override
performed by another institution for the same aid year.
~Section 480(d)(2) College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007~
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Can I collect too much documentation??
No!
Not!
Never!
No way!
Not a chance!
Never in a million years!
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A clear record of the FAA’s decision making process, reached
decision, and every action taken MUST ALWAYS be documented
and date stamped!
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Materials collected usually come on a “signed” 3rd party letterhead
document in support of student’s request for consideration of that
circumstance. (PJ)
Counselor includes: high school teacher, principal, guidance officer, psychiatrist,
psychologist etc…
Clergy-pastor-minister
Government agencies
Medical personnel (Doctor, social worker etc..)
Court system (lawyer, judge, case worker, police)
Prison administrators
”Unusual circumstances” per definition are:
 Rare
 Extraordinary
 Uncommon
 Unexpected
 Distinctive
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Unemployment/loss of income of dependent family member
or independent student
Medical, dental, or nursing home expenses of extended
family member, not covered by insurance
Elementary or secondary school tuition expenses
Unusually high child care or dependent care costs
**FAA are not limited to above circumstances; they are types
of conditions schools might consider**
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Exercising professional judgment is at the discretion of the
school and a matter of policy.
It is conceivable that a student may attend a school and
adjustments are made in accordance with a PJ and attend
a different school in the same aid year and those
adjustments are denied.
It is within a schools rights to refuse all professional
judgments as a matter of policy. A policy must be in place
at that institution.
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Medical bills, not reimbursed by insurance
Elementary/secondary school tuition bills
Child care or dependent care bills
Last pay stubs
Loss of SSI
Unemployment documentation
Termination papers
Tax returns
Divorce decrees
Death certificates
Parents enrollment in a degree seeking school for
retraining, due to loss of employment
Etc…
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Must be “special circumstances”
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Must be individual (not a class of students)
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Must have adequate documentation
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Cannot use PJ to waive eligibility requirements or
circumvent the intent of the statute
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Vacation expenses (i.e. purchase of cabin rental at Maddens )
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Gambling winnings
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Maintenance of car, home, lawn, utilities etc..
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Credit card bills, cell phone family plans
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Inheritance, Insurance settlements
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One time income (early distribution of retirement accounts)
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FAA may offer a dependent student an unsubsidized loan without
parental data being provided on the FAFSA if the FAA verifies…
 The parents of such student have ended financial support of the student
 The parents refuse to file the FAFSA
 No other type of federal can be offered
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All of the above requires a signed and dated statement from parents
Unsub Stafford loans would be eligible by grade level & additional $2000 per
year
 Freshman
 Sophomore
 Junior/Senior
$5500 ($3500 + $2000)
$6500 ($4500 + $2000)
$7500 ($5500 + $2000)
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Create an Appeals Office Committee to meet weekly. (always nice to have a 2nd opinion) 
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Application and Verification Guide 2014-2015
• Chapter 5: Special Circumstances
• Chapter 4: Verification, Updates, & Corrections
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Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended
• Section 479 A Discretion of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PJ data elements)
• Sections 428 H and Section 482 (unsub)
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Dear Colleague Letter GEN 03-07 (2009) (Section 480(d)(7) (other overrides)480(d)(2)
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Dear Colleague Letter GEN 11-15 (2011)
Jon Erickson
College of St. Scholastica
218.723.6725
[email protected]
Jody O’Connor
University of MN Duluth
218.726.7160
[email protected]

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