Professional Judgment

Professional Judgment Information

At Southeastern Louisiana University, we understand that there are various circumstances that may impact a student their family's financial situation which is not reflected in their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). As a result of these circumstances, the Higher Education Act Section 479A (a) extends the latitude of institution to exercise professional judgment to evaluate special circumstances on a case-by-case basis. Please see the information below regarding these special circumstances and how you can inform us of them.


Main Categories of Special Circumstances

Changes in Financial Circumstances Reflecting Loss of Income

  • Situation Involving Loss of Employment/Business or Decrease in Salary/Wages (Including Natural Disaster/Pandemic Related Changes)
  • Separation/Divorce, Alimony, Child support 
  • Disability/Social Security benefits
  • One-time payment received
  • High/unusual out-of-pocket (unreimbursed) medical and/or dental expenses that exceed 11% of the Family’s Adjusted Gross Income
  • Death of Parent or Spouse
    • To be filed only if initial FAFSA data included deceased parent (or student's spouse) in income or household
  • Parental College Enrollment verification
    • Parent must be enrolled in a minimum of 6 credit hours (or equivalent clock hours) per term to be considered

Increases in Student's Cost of Attendance Incurred While Attending Southeastern

  • Computer Purchase
  • Child Care Expense 
  • Housing Expense Exceeding the Standard Allotted in Student's Cost of Attendance
  • Tuition Adjustments 

Changes in Family Dynamics That Justify Applying as an Independent Student (Dependency Override)

  • Abandonment by parents
  • An abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health or safety
  • The student's inability to locate his/her parent

 Return to top

How to Apply/Application Forms

Instructions on How to Apply and How to Submit Documentation

Special Circumstance Forms can be found below using the drop down menu below. These Google Forms should be read carefully and submitted with all documentation attached in order to be considered in a timely manner. Please note, there are times when the student and parent may have more than one special circumstance occurring simultaneously which will require submission of separate applications. In addition, if a parent has more than one student attending Southeastern, documents must be submitted for each student separately.

Income Reduction Application Form

If a significant change in your financial situation has occurred due to your or a family member’s recent unemployment or any other extenuating circumstance, you may qualify for a financial aid adjustment. In addition to unemployment, other examples of extenuating circumstances include death or extreme illness/injury, and divorce/separation of parents (if dependent) or students (if independent). Please note, not all students will qualify for a financial aid adjustment.

Income Reduction Application Form

Cost of Attendance (COA) Adjustment Application Form

The Office of Financial Aid at Southeastern uses a standard Cost of Attendance (COA) for all students based on an estimated average cost of tuition and fees, book and supplies, room and board, transportation, miscellaneous expenses, and loan fees. The COA sets the limit on the maximum amount of financial aid a student may receive for the academic year.

When additional education-related expenses beyond your standard COA are incurred, you may request a COA adjustment by completing this request form. COA adjustments are evaluated on a case-by-case basis and are subject to federal and University policies.

Prior to submitting your request, please note:

  • The costs for the special circumstances must be incurred between August 2021 and May 2022.
  • Documentation is required to substantiate your request.
  • Requests for budget adjustments must be within reason. Items and amounts that are not within reason will be removed from your budget adjustment.

    Cost of Attendance (COA) Adjustment Application Form

Dependency Override Application Form

General Information for Requesting a Dependency Status Override:

The law allows you an opportunity to petition the financial aid administrator for a dependency override. The financial aid administrators may grant dependency overrides for students with “special circumstances” on a case-by-case basis and must document the “special circumstances” each award year. The U.S. Department of Education recognizes examples of “special circumstances” to be, but are not limited to an abusive family environment or abandonment by parents.

A Dependency Override cannot be granted solely on the basis:

  • A parent refuses to contribute to the student’s education.
  • A parent’s unwillingness to provide information on the FAFSA for verification.
  • A parent does not claim the student for income tax purposes.
  • A student’s ability to demonstrate total self-sufficiency and is not homeless.

    Dependency Override Application Form

 Return to top

Submission and Processing Timeline

Processing Timeline after Application is Submitted

  • The estimated timeframe for review and processing of a special circumstance application is typically 2 to 3 weeks excluding peak periods 
  • To avoid processing delays, please carefully review the information provided on the form and ensure that adequate and appropriate documentation is provided for each application type
  • Upon review, the student and or parent will be contacted via Southeastern webmail advising that their application has been reviewed. If additional documentation is required, the email will include a comprehensive list of required documentation. 

**Please also note that approved special circumstances do not guarantee that any additional aid will be awarded. ** 

Return to top


Please note: Because of the nature of federal, state, and institutional guidelines affecting financial aid programs, the information contained in this website is subject to change.