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Can I Get a New Financial Aid Package if My Mom Lost Her Job?

Mark Kantrowitz

September 29, 2009

I am in my third semester and have already received my financial aid for this semester; however, our financial circumstances have dramatically changed. My mother was laid off as of the first of August and my father has been found to have cancer and will be off work well into next year with treatments. Is there a way to amend the amount of aid that has been awarded to me for next semester? — Shawna L.

Call your college’s financial aid office and ask them about their procedures for a professional judgment review, often referred to as “PJ”. Some colleges call this a special circumstances review or a financial aid appeal.

College financial aid administrators have the authority to make adjustments to the data elements on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) on a case-by-case basis when justified by unusual circumstances. Both job loss and high unreimbursed medical expenses should qualify for an adjustment, as well as any significant change in circumstances from last year to this year. Colleges are not required to make an adjustment, but job loss is the most common circumstance in which most colleges will make an adjustment. The adjustment will be based on the financial impact of the unusual circumstance, such as the change in income. Provide the college with photocopies (not originals) of the layoff letter and other documentation, as the process is driven by documentation.

You can ask for a professional judgment review at any time, not just during the initial financial aid application process.

Read Another “Ask Kantro” Question from This Week’s Column!

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