NASFAA Survey Reveals Majority of Financial Aid Offices Anticipate a Spike in Requests for Reevaluation of Packages

Financial Aid Administrators Stand Ready to Answer Families' Questions and Guide Them Through the Process of Submitting a Request for Professional Judgment

June 11, 2020 — As the pandemic continues, financial aid offices at colleges and universities around the nation are bracing themselves for an increase in financial aid appeals from students and families experiencing economic hardship and incurring unforeseen costs. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) last week surveyed its member institutions seeking feedback on how COVID-19 has impacted the number of professional judgment requests financial aid offices expect to receive. 

The analysis of a student's financial need for student financial aid is based on a standardized assessment, but in situations where a student or family experiences unusual circumstances that make the standardized approach unsuitable, financial aid administrators have the authority to use professional judgment, on a case-by-case basis, to override the student's dependency status, adjust data elements used to calculate the student's expected family contribution, or revise the student's cost of attendance to more accurately reflect the student's true financial need and costs.

Survey respondents consisted of individuals from financial aid offices at 293 public, private, community college, and proprietary institutions of higher education across the country. While not statistically representative, the responses still offered useful information about what schools are doing now to provide help to students and families. Of the survey respondents:  

  • 47% saw an increase this year in the total number of requests for professional judgment, as compared to the same period between March 1, 2019–May 26, 2019.
  • 21% reported an increase in the number of requests of 50% or more. 
  • 90% anticipate experiencing an increase in professional judgment requests between May 26, 2020–Oct. 1, 2020. 
  • 22% intend to contact students proactively to inform them about the professional judgment process.

The survey also revealed that 78% of respondents' schools do not plan on offering discounts on future tuition, room and board, or books to reduce the number of these requests. NASFAA encourages students whose family's ability to pay has changed to speak with professionals at their college's — or intended college's — financial aid office to learn more about their school's specific process for submitting documentation of a change in circumstances.

“The pandemic and economic uncertainty that exists today hasn't been seen in more than two generations,” said NASFAA President Justin Draeger. “Students and families should know that schools stand ready to assist them in applying and receiving as much financial aid as possible. Before students count themselves out of college, they should check in with their school's financial aid office.” 

For more information and resources on how the spread of the novel coronavirus is impacting student financial aid and changes in family income, please refer to NASFAA's COVID-19 web center. To request an interview with a NASFAA spokesperson, please email Director of Marketing and Communications Erin Powers.

The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA) is a nonprofit membership organization that represents more than 28,000 financial aid professionals at nearly 3,000 colleges, universities, and career schools across the country. NASFAA member institutions serve nine out of every 10 undergraduates in the United States. Based in Washington, D.C., NASFAA is the only national association with a primary focus on student aid legislation, regulatory analysis, and training for financial aid administrators. For more information, visit

Publication Date: 6/11/2020

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