Financial Aid

Fact Sheet for Professional Judgment Appeals

The Office of Financial Aid may use professional judgment on a case-by-case basis, only to adjust the data used to calculate the Expected Family Contribution (EFC) or a student’s cost of attendance. The three types of Professional Judgment appeals are:  

  • Cost of Attendance Budget Increase  
  • Dependency Override
  • Reconsideration of Need

Professional judgment decisions granted to students at other higher education institutions will not automatically be granted at Fort Lewis College.  

Each type of appeal has specific requirements and deadlines. Submission of all three appeal types should be mailed, faxed, or emailed to:

Fort Lewis College - Office of Financial Aid
1000 Rim Drive - 101 Miller Student Center
Durango, CO 81301,
Fax: 970-247-7108 – finaid_off@fortlewis.edu

Details about each type of professional judgment appeal considered by the Fort Lewis College Office of Financial Aid Office are outlined below.

Cost of Attendance Increase Appeal

The cost of attendance (COA) is the foundation for establishing a student’s financial need, as it sets a limit on the total aid that a student may receive for purposes of Federal, State, and campus-based programs. The Office of Financial Aid can use professional judgment to adjust the cost of attendance on a case-by-case basis to allow for special circumstances. Such adjustment requests must include applicable documentation to support the request.  Listed below are the types of cost of attendance appeals in which a student’s cost of attendance budget can be increased through the appeals process.

  1. Dependent care – If approved, the increased amount will be based on the documentation provided with a maximum allowed of $1096 per month, per child, in accordance to Colorado Commission on Higher Education guidelines.
  2. Study-abroad expenses- Cost of attendance increases for approved study abroad expenses, beyond regular cost of attendance budget components, will be considered.
  3. Disability expenses - Cost of attendance increases due to expenses related to special services, personal assistance, transportation, equipment, and supplies that are reasonably incurred and not provided by other agencies will be considered.

How to Appeal: Students appealing for a cost of attendance increase must provide: 1) a signed personal statement outlining the reason for their request 2) applicable documentation supporting their request.  Cost of Attendance increase appeals must be submitted in writing and must be signed by the student. Electronic submissions are acceptable only if sent through the student’s Fort Lewis College (FLC) email address. All supporting documentation must be signed and printed on the agency letterhead (if applicable).

Deadline: The request and the supporting documentation must be received by the Office of Financial Aid by midterm of the Spring semester, for either Fall or Spring term consideration, or the 1st day of summer term if beginning attendance in the summer term.

Aid Adjustments: An increase made to a student’s cost of attendance budget does not guarantee an increase in financial aid awards.

Notification of Appeal: Complete cost of attendance appeals will be processed within 2-3 weeks after they are received. The student will be emailed (to their Fort Lewis College email) the outcome of their request.  If a student would like the Office of Financial Aid to convey information to anyone else about their account, appeal application, and/or results of their appeal, they need to make sure that they have a FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) release on file.

Dependency Override Appeal

By completing this appeal, a student is asking the Fort Lewis College Office of Financial Aid to review their dependency status to determine whether they qualify as an independent student based on their family situation.  In order for the Office of Financial Aid to consider an appeal, the student must document an extreme, unique, and/or unusual family circumstance that prevents them from obtaining parental information. Circumstances that may be considered include:

  1. Abandonment by parents
  2. Abusive family environment that threatens the student’s health and safety
  3. Inability to locate parents
  4. Incarceration or institutionalization of both parents
  5. Severe estrangement from parent

Circumstances that DO NOT qualify for consideration include:  

  1. Parents refuse to contribute to the student’s education or are not supporting the student
  2. Parents are unwilling to provide information on the FAFSA or for verification.
  3. Parents do not claim the student as a dependent for income tax purposes.
  4. Student demonstrates total self-sufficiency
  5. In general, disagreements between student and parents may cause parents unwillingness to provide information, but are not generally considered.

General Instructions:  If a student believes they qualify to appeal for a dependency override they should contact a financial aid counselor for the Dependency Override Appeal Form.     

Students appealing for a dependency override must:

  1. submit a signed Request for Dependency Override form, along with a signed personal statement outlining why they should be considered independent, what their current living situation is, how they are supported, and details of the relationship/situation with both biological/adoptive parents
  2. have a current year FAFSA on file that has the “special circumstances” box checked without parental information
  3. submit a minimum of two signed letters from third parties that can confirm the student’s situation, and/or an official document such as a court order. At least one source must be from an unrelated, professional that can verify the student’s situation (A third party includes, but is not limited to, a teacher, counselor, medical authority, social worker, government agency)

Deadline: The request and the supporting documentation must be received by the Office of Financial Aid by the midterm date of Spring semester or 1st day of summer term if beginning attendance in the summer for the current academic year.

Notification of Appeal:  Complete appeal applications will be processed within 2-3 weeks after being received. The student will be emailed (to their Fort Lewis College email) the outcome of their appeal.  If a student would like the Office of Financial Aid to convey information to anyone else about their account, appeal application, and/or results of their appeal, they need to make sure that they have a FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) release on file.

 

Reconsideration of Need Appeal

By submitting the Financial Aid Appeal for Reconsideration of Need form a student is requesting consideration for a specific change in his/her financial or family’s circumstances, that were beyond their control, that differentiates from his/her current financial or family situation reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Please note that in most cases, approved appeals will only result in a change in a Federal Pell Grant and/or Federal Direct Subsidized loan funds.

General Instructions:
Listed below are those situations in which our office will consider a Reconsideration of Need appeal for possible changes in financial aid eligibility.

  • My own, my spouse's, or my parent(s)' employment income has changed considerably due to layoff, termination, etc. Voluntarily leaving employment is not a basis for appeal.

  • I, my spouse, or my parent(s) have/has unusually high unreimbursed, non-elective out of pocket medical or dental expenses.

  • I, my spouse, or my parent(s) lost untaxed income or benefits such as child support.

  • I, my spouse, or my parent(s) have/has elementary or secondary tuition.

  • I, my spouse, or my parent(s) have/has a loss of income and/or assets due to reasons beyond their control (i.e. fire, natural disaster, death)

  • I, my spouse, or my parent(s) have/had a conversion of traditional IRAs to Roth IRAs in reported tax year.

    The Reconsideration of Need Form and complete instructions on how to submit an appeal application can be found on the Forms page.

    Deadline to Appeal:

    In 2017-18, Reconsideration of Need appeals must be received by the Office of Financial Aid by the first Monday in August for students starting in the Fall term, and the first Monday in December for students starting in the Spring term.

    Requests will be processed within three weeks of receiving a complete packet beginning April 1st for the upcoming 2017-18 school year.

    Students who have not received a final decision regarding their appeal should expect to start the school year with the original official financial aid award they received for that academic year. If a student does not believe they can afford to attend without additional aid, they should withdraw before school begins in order to avoid any financial obligation to the college.

    Aid Adjustments: Adjustments to a financial aid award as a result of an approved Reconsideration of Need appeal are neither guaranteed nor immediate and depend upon the availability of funding.

    Notification of Appeal: The Office of Financial Aid will email the student (to their Fort Lewis College email) the outcome of their appeal. If a student would like the Office of Financial Aid to convey information to anyone else about their account, appeal application, and/or results of their appeal, they need to make sure that they have a FERPA (Family Education Rights and Privacy Act) release on file.