After the coronavirusthrough the U.S. last spring, the U.S. Department of Education to use their ability to adjust parts of students’ federal financial aid forms to reflect their economic hardships better.
Aid applications rely on dated tax forms that.
The Biden administration reiterated this flexibility inthis January. In the letter, the acknowledged institutions might be wary of using this tactic, called professional judgment. The agency typically considers how frequently it’s used when selecting reviews.
But in this unprecedented, the department said increased use of professional judgment wouldn’t factor into program review selection for a few years. Given the significant uptick in such requests, many leaders celebrate the department’s decision. Colleges are also carving out other methods of ensuring .
“As our nation grapples with the financial impact of the, it is critical that the Department of Education provides financial aid administrators with maximum flexibility to help struggling families pay for college and that institutions are not unfairly penalized for doing so,” Erin Powers, a spokesperson for the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, wrote in an email.
What is professional judgment?
Professional judgment enables college financial aid officers to modify theStudent Aid, affecting how much they are expected to pay out of pocket for college.
NASFAAin the fall and found more than half of them saw an increase in the number of professional judgment requests from March through September compared to the prior year. Most (84%) of above 20,000 reported a significant increase.
In addition to the department encouraging colleges’ use of professional judgment, thethrough Congress dictates that institutions that accept federal assistance must use some of that money to reach out to financial aid applicants. In doing so, they must discuss options for adjusting students’ aid awards.
Given many institutions’ precarious financial positions, they will likely accept their allocation of the $40 billion in direct aid. The department’s reminders are “necessary messaging,” said Clare McCann, deputy director for federal higherpolicy at New America, a left-leaning think tank. “Because this all runs counter to what on a normal day, there needs to be some notice given to the schools that something is different right now.”
Applying foris already a confusing process for many students. And some, especially those who are Black or Latino, who are more likely to be first-generation, are less likely to they receive, according to advocacy group The Education Trust. It that the professional judgment process is inconsistent across institutions. That could be , as all judgments are subjective and potentially susceptible to implicit bias,” the organization wrote.