Test Preview: Professional Judgment

Content Areas

To earn this credential, you will need to know about the authority granted to the financial aid administrator to make certain adjustments when students and families are facing special circumstances. You will need to know the explicit and implicit guidelines for exercising discretion using professional judgment (PJ) in matters related to dependency status, need analysis, and student or parent Federal Direct Student Loan (Direct Loan) Program eligibility. This will help you demonstrate the ability to protect the integrity of the Title IV programs by ensuring your school’s policies and procedures related to the exercise of PJ authority are reasonable and applied consistently, resulting in the equitable distribution of financial aid funding. 

The range of topics in this test include:

  • General Concepts of Professional Judgment Authority
  • Using Professional Judgment in Need Analysis
  • Using Professional Judgment in Originating Direct Loans
  • Using Professional Judgment in Satisfactory Academic Progress

Tests may include questions pertaining to a variety of program structures, such as credit- or clock-hour, term or nonterm, standard or nonstandard term, undergraduate or graduate/professional programs, and programs of various length (shorter than one year, two-year, four-year, certificate, etc.).

Sample Test Questions

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Review the following examples, which are similar in structure and scope to the questions that will appear on the test for this topic. Check your answers by selecting the question's link.

1. Financial aid administrators should always seek to obtain and maintain __________ regarding changed circumstances in order to support their use of professional judgment.

    • verifiable third-party documentation
    • a letter of endorsement from the student’s academic advisor
    • bank documents
    • a letter of endorsement from a student’s colleague

2. When a financial aid administrator exercises professional judgment, if the student disagrees with the decision,

    • the only recourse is for the student to appeal the decision to the institution’s President.
    • the only recourse is for the student to appeal the decision to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education through the Office of the Ombudsman.
    • the decision is final and cannot be appealed.
    • under the Automatic Review Policy of 2014, the student may request the action be reviewed and confirmed by an independent committee at the institution.

3. When a student provides appropriate documentation of special circumstances, which of the following actions is the financial aid administrator permitted to take?

    • Reduce the EFC up to 50 percent, provided the AGI is reduced by more than 50 percent
    • Waive the selection for verification by the CPS, based on the exercise of professional judgment
    • Consider the student to have a 0 EFC by marking the Autozero EFC flag on FAA Access to CPS Online
    • Change the value of specific data elements and recalculate the EFC

4. A dependent student whose parents refuse to provide financial information on the FAFSA®

    • should be declared to be independent through the exercise of professional judgment.
    • will have a 0 EFC when the Simplified Needs Test is marked on the FAFSA, in accord with Executive Act 14-024 for Student Access.
    • may be eligible for a Direct Unsubsidized Loan in certain circumstances.
    • cannot qualify for Title IV aid unless she convinces her parents to provide the financial information on the FAFSA.

5. A financial aid administrator may exercise professional judgment to deny a student access to federal Direct Loans

    • in a Title IV eligible online program, if the direct costs can be met in any combination of grant or scholarship aid.
    • if the student informs the administrator in writing that they have no intention of ever repaying any student loan.
    • if the earning potential based on documented Gainful Employment earnings data verifies an inability to pay the loan.
    • if the institution’s policies and procedures clearly indicate that students enrolled half-time will not be allowed to borrow.

Recommended Resources

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