Weigh In: How Does Your Office Handle Professional Judgments?

While some areas of financial aid are heavily prescriptive, others, like professional judgment, leave issues up for interpretation. In the comments section, let us know how your office handles the following scenarios, and check out how your peers approach them, too. There are no wrong answers; please contribute so everyone can learn from each other! 

  • Does your office allow students and families to submit PJ documentation electronically?
  • What documentation does your office require students and families to submit to substantiate a loss of income?
  • Under what circumstances does your office include a parent in the number in college?

 

Publication Date: 4/22/2015


Laura M | 5/8/2015 9:7:20 AM

We allow families to submit Special Circumstances (PJ) Forms and Documentation to us electronically. They download the PDF from our website, complete, print, and either walk it in or fax. Since we have a digital imaging system, our off campus sites will scan and queue submissions (we require a wet signature on all student docs).
For loss of income, we require documentation from previous employer (showing termination or reduction of income and last pay stub), recent pay stub from new employer (applicable if they have a new job at a lower income), documentation from a state agency if eligible for unemployment (with start date), and detailed projected income for the calendar year.

Lisa H | 4/28/2015 4:40:06 PM

Yes, we allow students to submit PJ documents electronically, fax and email.
Loss of income documentation:
-either a letter from the employer or copy of unemployment statement and current pay stub
-death of spouse or parent we need a copy of the death certificate or obituary and W-2 forms
-Divorce: we need the 1st page of the divorce pages with date of divorce and W-2 forms
-Disability/Health: we need a doctors statement explaining nature and duration and W-2 forms
We don't complete PJ to add a parent in college for a dependent student.

Bridgette B | 4/22/2015 11:44:00 AM

We allow families to submit PJ Documentation to us electronically. They download the PDF from our website, complete, print, and usually scan and email back in (we still require a signature).
For loss of income, we require documentation from previous employer (showing termination or reduction of income and last pay stub), recent pay stub from new employer (applicable if they have a new job at a lower income), documentation from a state agency if eligible for unemployment, and detailed projected income for the calendar year.
We do not currently complete a PJ for a parent in college.

Val M | 4/22/2015 11:10:27 AM

Electronic submission is not really an option for us, we have paper forms that we will mail or email and accept back as PDF docs sent by email. or by mail or fax or walk-in.

Income loss - in addition to tax data to verify if not already verified (we are a QA school), we require documentation from previous employer, docs from new employer (applicable if they have a new job at a lower income), documentation from a state agency if eligible for unemployment, and detailed projected income for the calendar year.

Parent in college - less than half time, we will reduce the available income by the amount paid minus any aid. More than half time, we will add to number in college. Required documents include a bill, proof of enrollment from the Registrar at that school, and a copy of the award letter or note from their finanical aid office that the parent is getting no aid.

Mark G | 4/22/2015 10:26:57 AM

Though we do not have an electronic form, we do allow appeals to be sent via fax or through our secure upload system. Although we often get documentation as email attachments, we dissuade folks from sending sensitive documents (tax returns, W-2s or anything else with an SSN) as an email attachment.

To document a loss of income, we require documentation of the loss of a former job (letter from former employer on official letterhead), Unemployment Insurance documentation (was claim accepted or denied? what is weekly amount? How many weeks are covered?), year-to-date income for parents and students (including severance packages). If we receive a PJ after the beginning of the new calendar year, we also require a tax return for the year in question.

We don't include a parent in college.

Eric A | 4/22/2015 10:5:17 AM

We do not have electronic forms for PJs. We would use a combination of recent paystubs, employer letters, unemployment benefit stubs and/or W2s to help with income changes. We allow parents to become a number in college if they are enrolled full time and/or have substantial (greater than $10,000) out of pocket tuition costs themselves. Otherwise, for part time or less expenses, we will do a PJ for a parent, but we'll simply reduce the AGI by the amount of tuition paid.

David G | 4/22/2015 9:30:01 AM

We accept e-submissions of information; usually, it comes as pdf documents attached to an e-mail.

We have held the line on reported income loss because our experience has been that today's calamity may not be long-term. We use base-year income unless something permanent (like the death of a wage earner) occurs, and then we request documentation on final settlements.

We do not adjust for parents in college.

Charles S | 4/22/2015 9:15:31 AM

Does your office allow students and families to submit PJ documentation electronically? Only in rare/extreme cases do we allow a student/parent/family to submit PJ documents electronically.
What documentation does your office require students and families to submit to substantiate a loss of income? An Income Adjustment Request Form that takes into account loss or change of employment, loss of untaxed income, loss of a family member, unusual medical, dental, or handicap, and other. Each of these areas requires documentation to support the student's/families claim.
Under what circumstances does your office include a parent in the number in college? When they are enrolled at least half time in a degree, diploma, or certificate program at a post-secondary educational institution.

Keena F | 4/22/2015 9:14:16 AM

-We allow students and parents to submit documents via fax, email and scan
-Students and parents wishing to be considered for an EFC Data Adjustment must submit the Institutionally designed EFC Data adjustment form due to loss of income, a detailed letter explaining their situation noting the timing of events and the income that was loss as well as current income they're receiving. If receiving unemployment we require that information to determine if wages and UE income can be disregarded. applicable tax returns, w-2 and last pay stubs. Also, any untaxed income or means tested benefits the student or parent may now be collecting due to their income loss.

-We do not review PJ's to determine if parents can be included in the number in college. As an office we are not opposed to it.

Stanley W | 4/22/2015 9:13:08 AM

Electronic submission? Yes, by fax or by documents scanned & attached to e-mail.
Income loss: We have a form for requesting consideration of special circumstances that specifies the documentation we expect related to the type of income loss the family reports.
Parent as number in college: If the parent is the student applicant, we allow for the parent to count in number in college. We do not count the parent as part of number in college in his/her child-student's application.

Kim B | 4/22/2015 8:59:28 AM

We encourage students to submit their PJ documentation electronically through our secure portal. For a loss of income, we would require either a signed letter on letterhead from the previous employee, giving the date of termination, or we could accept documentation from the state labor department that the employee is currently receiving unemployment benefits. If the employee only has a reduction of income, then a letter from the employer indicating WHY and a copy of the employee's most recent pay stub would suffice. As for including a parent in the number in college... we don't.

Philip L | 4/22/2015 8:55:11 AM

Electronic submission is accepted - information from third parties must include contact information for the submitter and contact via telephone is required to substantiate.

For income loss - dependent upon type of loss - layoff notice - application for unemployment compensation and documentation of benefits (amount and duration) termination of workers compensation benefits requires notice of termination date and submission of history of amounts received.

For parent(s) in number in college - must be enrolled at least half time in a Title IV eligible institution with confirmation from Registrar and if employed - confirmation from employer that employer is not covering any costs associated with the enrollment.

William B | 4/22/2015 8:51:07 AM

We require students/parents of students to file our Special Condition to state the reason for the change and then report all FAFSA taxable and untaxed income. In addition, we require verification of base year FAFSA data prior to making any PJ changes. We do not encourage electronic submissions, but do accept faxes and attached documents to e-mails.

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