Professional Judgement

Western Washington University recognizes that financial changes or other unique circumstances may be experienced by students and their families. Schools have a process in place to consider an adjustment to aid eligibility based on special or unusual circumstances. These can be referred to as professional judgment or “PJ” determinations.

Situations are reviewed on an individual and case-by-case basis and not applied to a group of students. Professional Judgment determinations do not carry over from one school to the next.

Situations that MAY warrant a Professional Judgment (PJ) determination

This list is not exhaustive so if you have a circumstance that does not appear to meet any of the below criteria contact our office.

  • Change in financial circumstances
    • loss of a job or reduction in income, retirement, loss of child support or other financial benefits
    • unusual out of pocket medical expenses that were not covered by reimbursement or insurance
    • unique one-time financial events such as an IRA disbursement or pension distribution or IRA rollover
  • Change in marital status:
    • death of a parent or spouse or divorce
  • Dependency Override:
    • An override to a student’s dependency based on a unique situation (e.g., human trafficking, refugee or asylee status, parental abandonment, incarceration), more commonly referred to as a dependency override. More information is available about Dependency Overrides on the financial aid website. Important information about what types of circumstances may or may not apply are available on this section of our website.
  • Cost of Attendance Increase:
    • Updating certain Cost of Attendance (COA) components for additional expenses such as the purchase of a new computer for educational purposes or dependent childcare expenses or disability accommodations.
    • Not all cost of attendance increases result in additional financial aid eligibility.

Situations that ARE NOT eligible for a Professional Judgment determination

  • Standard cost of living expenses
  • Consumer debt (mortgage payments, bankruptcy, or personal debt)
  • Discretionary expenses

Required Documentation

  • Documentation must be provided to support the circumstances and the reason for the PJ determination. The required documentation will depend on the circumstances and nature of the request. In many cases, a meeting with a financial aid counselor will be required to discuss the circumstances and appropriate documentation.

How Do I Request a Professional Judgment Determination?

Timeline & Process

  • After submitting documentation, our office will review the documents to ensure completion . All documentation will be reviewed by a financial aid counselor who makes the final determination. The Department of Education does not have the authority to override our PJ determination and the determination of the financial aid administrator is final.
  • If additional information is required to process a PJ, the student will receive a message in their Web4U (student portal) and be notified via WWU email. Parents may contact financial aid to discuss an adjustment that they have submitted, however notifications are not sent directly to parents.
  • Depending on the time of year, the processing timeline may vary. We must always complete any initially required documentation (such as federal Verification) before a Professional Judgment determination can be considered.