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Professional Judgment/Special Circumstances

Have a special circumstance that requires your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to be adjusted? The Office of Student Financial Assistance has the ability to make adjustments to your financial aid eligibility based on your situation.

Professional Judgment

Professional Judgment refers to the school's authority to make adjustments, on a case-by-case basis, to information reported on the FAFSA so that the Department of Education can recalculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC is the number that the school uses to determine if a student is eligible for need-based financial aid.

Please note: The school does not have the authority to make direct adjustments to the EFC or the formula used to calculate the EFC, just data elements on the FAFSA which may change the EFC. Students who also do not meet the Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) policy at the College of DuPage are not eligible to receive Title IV funding via an appeal for Professional Judgment.

The professional judgment process requires a thorough review by the Office of Student Financial Assistance to determine what changes, if any, may be appropriate based on your FAFSA application. This process is time-intensive and includes the following steps:

  1. Submit a Professional Judgment Request
    The student must submit all Professional Judgment paperwork electronically using the student portal or using the link below.
  2. Professional Judgment Processing
    The student’s file is then reviewed to determine if all required documentation has been submitted. If additional documentation is needed, the student will be notified via their COD email account.
  3. Professional Judgment Decision
    The Office of Student Financial Assistance will determine if a student's Professional Judgment request meets the criteria to make data element changes to their FAFSA.

If the request for Professional Judgment is approved, appropriate changes will be made to the student's FAFSA and submitted to the Department of Education. The Department of Education will then recalculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and the student's eligibility for need-based aid. The student will be notified via their COD email account.

If denied, the student will be notified via their COD email account.

In some cases, an adjustment does not increase the student's eligibility for grants or the total amount of aid awarded.

The Office of Student Financial Assistance reserves the right to deny any appeals that would not increase a student's eligibility for aid. The decision of the Office of Student Financial Assistance is final and cannot be appealed to the Department of Education.

Special circumstances are anything that differentiates the family's finances from those of other families. Below are examples to include, but not limited to, reasons to submit a professional judgment request:

Reduced Work Earnings

  • Loss of employment or layoff
  • Reduction in work hours or partial/temporary loss of employment
  • Reduction in work income due to illness or injury

Other Loss, Reduction or One-Time Adjustment to Income

  • One-time IRA or Pension Distribution

Loss of Benefits

  • Reduction or loss of child support or alimony
  • Change in Workman’s Compensation or Long-Term Disability Income

Medical Expenses

  • Unusually high medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance

Divorce, Death or Separation After Filing the FAFSA

  • Divorce/Separation of a Dependent Student’s Parent or of an Independent Student
  • Death of a dependent student’s parent or of an independent student

Dependency Status

Please note: Use of professional judgment is neither limited to nor required for the situations mentioned.

Situations that are not considered special circumstances:

  • Car payments
  • Cost of Attendance adjustments
  • Credit card or other personal debts
  • Elementary or secondary tuition paid by the family
  • Mortgage payments
  • Outstanding debt or bankruptcy
  • Parent’s enrollment in postsecondary education program
  • Standard living expenses (i.e., utilities, credit-card expenses, children’s allowances, etc.)
  • Support of extended family or second household
  • Tithing
  • Vacation expenses
  • All other discretionary expenses

If you would like to request consideration of special circumstances:

For more information, talk to a financial aid representative about your situation. Financial aid representatives can guide you through the next steps and the required documentation to see if your eligibility can be adjusted. You can also consider apply for scholarships to help offset the cost of your tuition. 

Contact Information

Office of Student Financial Assistance
Seaton Computing Center (SCC), Room 123
(630) 942-2251
Fax: (630) 942-2151

Summer Hours

  • Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Wednesday and Thursday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday, closed

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