Professional Judgment Policy (PJ)


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. Due to extenuating circumstances, students and parents often find the information they provided on the FAFSA does not realistically reflect their ability to provide educational support. When this happens, students may choose to submit a Financial Aid Professional Judgment Appeal to The Financial Aid office requesting that their situation be reviewed. The student must consult with their financial aid counselor to determine if an appeal is warranted and to request the appeal form.

Bethune Cookman University Office of Student Financial Aid will provide individual consideration of each student’s circumstances to the extent possible. Appeals will be reviewed by The Financial Aid professional Judgment Committee. Students must monitor their BCU emails account closely after submitting appeals, in case additional information is requested by the committee.

If additional information is requested you will be notified by email to your BCU email account.

         Deadline to submit a professional judgment appeals in the 2016-17 year:

         November 28, 2016– student attending Spring 2017 (only)

         Deadline to submit a professional judgment appeals in the 2017-18 year:

         March 24, 2017 – students attending the Summer 2017

         March 24, 2017 – students attending the Fall 2017

Please allow 7-14 days, after submitted all requested documentation, for appeal results.

Please note: a successful appeal will guarantee additional aid.

Appeal Requirements:

  • A completed 2017-2018 professional Judgment form along with requested documentation.
  • Other requested documentation depending on the circumstances of the appeal.

Please include the student’s last name and student id number on all submitted of documentation.

Students will be selected for verification must complete the verification process prior to any professional judgment decisions.

If the appeal is approved, the aid eligibility will be reevaluated. No additional aid is guaranteed with a successful appeal, and any potential increases in aid eligibility are subject to fund availability.

Examples of professional judgment reasons include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Death of the dependent/independent student is spouse/parent after submission of the FAFSA application
  • Unusually high medical/dental expenses not covered by insurance (out of pocket expenses) – must have paid statements and not already itemized on tax return. Medical expenses must exceed $3000
  • Separated or divorce of parent or student after application
  • Loss of wages - Dependent students’ parents’ income has been significantly reduced in 2015 Independent students’ income has been significantly reduced in 2015 The student or parent no longer receives benefits such as child support or other sources of income.
  • Dependent care expenses

Dependency Override


According to the federal regulations, dependent students are required to use natural or adoptive parents information only when completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).A student may have unusual circumstances that justify a dependency override that will allow the financial aid administrator to change the students’ status from dependent to independent. All dependency overrides are made on a case by case basis along with supporting documentation. The student must consult with a financial aid counselor to discuss circumstances and to request an appeal for review of dependency status form.

Once the documentation has been submitted, the financial aid counselor will submit the case to the committee. The committee will review the documentation and a notification will be sent to the student via BCU email account regarding the decision.

By Law, The following conditions do not qualify as “unusual circumstances” or do not merit a dependency override (1) parents refusing to contribute to a student’s education; (2) Parents unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification; (3) parents not claiming the student as dependent for income tax purposes. (4) students demonstrating self-sufficiency. Also, a student not living with their parents does not automatically qualify the student for a dependency override.