Appeal for Special Circumstances

On a case-by-case basis, when there have been significant changes to the income reported on the FAFSA, the federal government allows a financial aid administrator to make certain adjustments to the FAFSA information according to documents submitted by the student and/or family. This process is called “Professional Judgment” or “PJ.”

It is important to note that a request for a Professional Judgment will not always result in more financial aid. A student’s eligibility for additional aid is dependent on many factors, including the accuracy of the original FAFSA information, how much the student’s original Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is listed at, and how the new information actually reduces the student’s EFC. To be eligible for additional aid, the student's EFC typically would need to drop below $5,000.

Special circumstances may include:

  • Loss of income
  • Occurrence of one-time income
  • Change in family size due to separation or divorce
  • Death of parent
  • Excessive medical/dental expenses
  • Childcare or eldercare expenses
  • Other documentable significant reductions in income or extraordinary expenses
  • A parent attending college
  • Dependency status change


Please be sure to read and follow the directions on the form; this will allow for a quicker process. After reviewing your request, we will let you know if more documentation is required. It is a federal requirement for PLNU to obtain sufficient documentation when considering a special circumstance.

What to Expect

All requests are reviewed by committee on a case-by-case basis according to guidelines set forth by the U.S. Department of Education, as we are limited and bound by regulation. Our response time may take up to three weeks from the date all documents are received.

NOTE: PLNU does not consider appeals for private secondary school tuition. The Department of Education has provided guidance that Professional Judgments must be a unique circumstance and cannot be applied to a class of students.