Professional Judgment and Dependency Overrides

Professional judgment (PJ) decisions are made by the BPCC Financial Aid Office on a case-by-case basis as the result of examining a particular student’s unique circumstances.
The Financial Aid Director, Associate Director, and Assistant Director will have the authority to exercise professional judgment. PJ will only be exercised after any required verification has been completed, all required institutional forms have been completed, and any conflicting/inconsistent information has been resolved.
The PJ decision of the Financial Aid Office is final and cannot be appealed to the Department of Education.

Special Circumstances

The circumstances outlined as “special circumstances” by BPCC include but are not limited to:

  • Loss of employment due to termination, layoff, disability, retirement, company closing, or plant shutdown
  • Loss of untaxed benefit or income including worker’s compensation, child support, pensions and annuities, or social security benefits
  • Separation or divorce
  • Death of individual whose information was reported on the FAFSA
  • Documented excessive out-of-pocket medical expenses

The student should complete the Special Circumstance form in order to be considered for a PJ. Special circumstance requests, due to loss of income from work, will be considered whereby BPCC will compare the prior-prior year tax information to the prior year tax information. We will not “project” income based on student’s estimate of earnings in current year.

Once the student has filed a federal tax return for the future award year, the student should submit the Special Circumstance request form along with supporting documentation to the Financial Aid Office. If the Special Circumstance is not due to loss of income, the Special Circumstance request form along with supporting documentation may be submitted to the Financial Aid Office without waiting to file a new federal tax return.

Such documentation includes:

  • Tax transcript for both award years (present and future) for true comparison
  • W2s for all (student/spouse/parent as applicable)
  • Unemployment records (if applicable)
  • Most recent pay stubs (as applicable)
  • Disability payments (if applicable)
  • Any other benefits received

After all documentation is collected, the Financial Aid Director/Associate Director/Assistant Director will evaluate the material for PJ consideration. If the PJ is approved, a correction will be made to the ISIR within the Banner system or on FAA Access. In addition, the Financial Aid Director will indicate on the Comment screen on the Banner system that a PJ has been exercised.
The student will be repackaged for financial aid for the fall/spring semesters. A revised award notification email will be generated for the student indicating any new award amounts.

Dependency Overrides

A dependency override occurs when a financial aid administrator exercises professional judgment and overrides the Department of Education’s criteria for dependent students. An override may only be granted on a case-by-case basis for students with unusual & exceptional circumstances. These circumstances must show compelling reason for a student to be considered independent rather than dependent.

The following are some examples of conditions that could warrant a dependency override:

  • Documented abandonment
  • Parental drug abuse
  • Parental mental incapacity
  • Physical or emotional abuse
  • Severe estrangement from parents
  • Parental Incarceration

By Federal Law, the following conditions DO NOT warrant a dependency override:

  • Parents refuse to provide information on the FAFSA application or for verification
  • Parents do not claim student as a dependent for income tax purposes
  • Parents unwilling or unable to contribute to student’s education
  • Student demonstrates self-sufficiency (lives on his own)
  • Student reluctant to request the income information from parents
  • Student does not wish to communicate with parents

Financial Aid Policy at BPCC requires a student seeking a dependency override to complete the BPCC Dependency Override Request (available in the Financial Aid office) form. Decisions made at other institutions are not accepted.
Students should complete this form if the student is considered a dependent student for federal financial aid and believes he/she has a compelling extenuating circumstance which should allow the student to be considered an independent student. Return the completed form with the following documentation:

  • Three (3) letters (statements) stating the situation with parent(s) (ALL LETTERS MUST BE SIGNED)
    • 1 letter (statement) must be from student
    • 1 letter (statement) from family member*
    • 1 letter (statement) from non-family member*

*Letters (statements) MUST INCLUDE:

  • Name of sender
  • Address of sender
  • Phone number of sender
  • Relationship to student
  • If a parent is deceased, student should submit:
  • Death certificate of parent AND
  • Birth certificate of student
  • A completed Independent Verification Worksheet
  • A copy of student’s IRS tax transcript for current award year and/or copy of all W-2 forms
  • Your photo ID (the Financial Aid staff will make a copy)
  • Any paperwork that will document the student’s situation.

The determination of whether or not to approve a dependency override is made by the Professional Judgment Committee at BPCC – consisting of the Financial Aid Director, Associate Director, and Assistant Director. All decisions made by the Professional Judgment Committee on dependency overrides are FINAL and cannot be appealed to the U. S. Department of Education.