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                                                                                 83-780
                                                                               07-10-11

                              PROFESSIONAL JUDGEMENT

The Financial Aid Director may use professional judgment, on a case-by-case basis 
only, to alter the data elements used to calculate the EFC. The professional judgment 
alteration is valid only at Oglala Lakota College. The Financial Aid Director may submit 
an adjustment without a signature from the parent or student, and the adjustment must 
be done electronically, via FAA Access to the CPS Online.  

The reason for the adjustment must be documented in the studentís file, and it must 
relate to that studentís special circumstances that differentiate the individual student (not 
to conditions that exist for a whole class of students). The Financial Aid Director can also 
use professional judgment to adjust the studentís cost of attendance. The Financial Aid 
Director must resolve any inconsistent or conflicting information shown on the output 
document before making and adjustments. The Financial Aid Directorís decision 
regarding adjustments is final and cannot be appealed to the Department.

If professional judgment is used to adjust a data element, the resulting EFC must be 
used consistently for all FSA funds awarded to that student. 

USING PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT TO ADJUST AN INDIVIUAL STUDENTíS COST 
OF ATTENDANCE BUDGET
Consideration for a student budget will be made on a case-by-case basis with 
documentation of mitigating circumstances. Only the Director of Financial Aid can make 
Professional Judgment Decisions.

The only considerations for student cost of attendance adjustment are listed below. 
There are no exceptions to this list:
    
    1.   Act of God occurrences such as fire lightning, blizzards, tornados, flooding and 
         loss of heat. 
    2.   Total loss of income within the last six months.
    3.   Additional child.
    4.   A portion of documented day care cost may be considered.

PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT DEPENDENCY OVERRIDE DEPENDENCY OVERRIDES 
The Financial Aid Director will make dependency overrides on a case-by-case basis for 
student with unusual circumstances. If the administrator determines that an override is 
appropriate, she must write a statement detailing the determination and must include the 
statement and supporting documentation in the studentís file. However, none of the 
conditions listed below, singly or in combination, qualify as unusual circumstances or 
merit a dependency override:

    1.   Parents refuse to contribute to the studentís education;
    2.   Parents are unwilling to provide information on the application or for verification;
    3.   Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes;
    4.   Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency.

Unusual circumstances do include an abusive family environment or abandonment by 
parents and may cause any of the above conditions. In such cases, a dependency 
override might be warranted. The Financial Aid Director may override only from 
dependent to independent. Also, Financial Aid Director can cancel an override that was 
approved at another school, since an override at one school is not binding at another. 
The law requires that the financial aid office at the school the student is currently 
attending determine whether an over ride is justified.

Not only do dependency overrides not carry over from one school to another, they do not 
carry from one year to the next; if the student is not dependent for some other reason, 
the financial aid office must reaffirm each year that the unusual circumstances persist 
and that an override is still justified.

Generally, the documentation of unusual circumstances should come from a third party 
that knows the studentís situation (such as a teacher or member of the clergy), but in 
cases where this is not available, the school can accept a signed statement from the 
student detailing the unusual circumstances.

To override the studentís dependent statues on an initial application through EDE, the 
aid administrator should use the Dependency Override code of ď1Ē (see the Application 
Processing Desk Reference or the EDE Technical Reference for more information).

If the student has already applied, the FAA can use FAA Access to CPS Online to 
authorize or cancel an override; overrides are not possible to the ISIR.

PETITION TO APPLY FOR INDEPENDENT STATUS
Students seeking to change from Dependent to Independent status must complete and 
submit the petition to apply for Independent Status to the Director of Financial Aid. The 
Director may require additional information to support the studentís petition. The Director 
has the authority to use Professional Judgment to approve or disapprove the studentís 
position. Only the Director can make Professional Judgment decisions. The Director will 
notify the student in writing of the approval or disapproval of the studentís petition.

PROFESSIONAL JUDGMENT FOR INCOME REDUCTION
The Director may consider using Professional Judgment to approve a studentís 
reduction of income if the student can provide in writing the reasons for the income 
reduction. The student must prove the circumstances that resulted in the income 
reduction. The student/parents must complete the Income Reduction Form and provide 
documentation for the current income status.

The Director can approve or disapprove the studentís/parentís income reduction if not 
properly documented. If approved, the income reduction may or may not result in the 
studentís receiving financial aid because of the funding available or the lack thereof.



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