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Professional Judgment
Higher Education Act of 1965

Section 479A [20 USC 1087tt]

  1. IN GENERAL. -- Nothing in this part shall be interpreted as limiting the authority of the financial aid administrator, on the basis of adequate documentation, to make adjustments on a case-by-case basis to the cost of attendance or the values of the data items required to calculate the expected student or parent contribution (or both) to allow for treatment of an individual eligible applicant with special circumstances. However, this authority shall not be construed to permit aid administrators to deviate from the contributions expected in the absence of special circumstances. Special circumstances may include tuition expenses at an elementary or secondary school, medical or dental expenses not covered by insurance, unusually high child care costs, recent unemployment of a family member, the number of parents enrolled at least half-time in a degree, certificate, or other program leading to a recognized educational credential at an institution with a program participation agreement under section 487, or other changes in a family's income, a family's assets, or a student's status. Special circumstances shall be conditions that differentiate an individual student from a class of students rather than conditions that exist across a class of students. Adequate documentation for such adjustments shall substantiate such special circumstances of individual students. In addition, nothing in this title shall be interpreted as limiting the authority of the student financial aid administrator in such cases to request and use supplementary information about the financial status or personal circumstances of eligible applicants in selecting recipients and determining the amount of awards under this title. No student or parent shall be charged a fee for collecting, processing, or delivering such supplementary information.

  2. ADJUSTMENTS TO ASSETS TAKEN INTO ACCOUNT. -- A student financial aid administrator shall be considered to be making a necessary adjustment in accordance with subsection (a) if --
    1. the administrator makes adjustments excluding from family income any proceeds of a sale of farm or business assets of a family if such sale results from a voluntary or involuntary foreclosure, forfeiture, or bankruptcy or an involuntary liquidation; or
    2. the administrator makes adjustments in the award level of a student with a disability so as to take into consideration the additional costs such student incurs as a result of such student's disability.

  3. REFUSAL OR ADJUSTMENT OF LOAN CERTIFICATIONS. -- On a case-by-case basis, an eligible institution may refuse to certify a statement that permits a student to receive a loan under part B or D, or may certify a loan amount or make a loan that is less than the student's determination of need (as determined under this part), if the reason for the action is documented and provided in written form to the student. No eligible institution shall discriminate against any borrower or applicant in obtaining a loan on the basis of race, national origin, religion, sex, marital status, age, or disability status.

Section 480(d)(7) [20 USC 1087vv]

  1. INDEPENDENT STUDENT. -- The term ''independent'', when used with respect to a student, means any individual who --
    1. is 24 years of age or older by December 31 of the award year;
    2. is an orphan or ward of the court or was a ward of the court until the individual reached the age of 18;
    3. is a veteran of the Armed Forces of the United States (as defined in subsection (c)(1)) or is currently serving on active duty in the Armed Forces for other than training purposes;
    4. is a graduate or professional student;
    5. is a married individual;
    6. has legal dependents other than a spouse; or
    7. is a student for whom a financial aid administrator makes a documented determination of independence by reason of other unusual circumstances.

Section 484 [20 USC 1091]

  1. IN GENERAL. -- In order to receive any grant, loan, or work assistance under this title, a student must --
    1. if the student is presently enrolled at an institution, be maintaining satisfactory progress in the course of study the student is pursuing in accordance with the provisions of subsection (c);
    1. For the purpose of subsection (a)(2), a student is maintaining satisfactory progress if --
      1. the institution at which the student is in attendance, reviews the progress of the student at the end of each academic year, or its equivalent, as determined by the institution, and
      2. the student has a cumulative C average, or its equivalent or academic standing consistent with the requirements for graduation, as determined by the institution, at the end of the second such academic year.
    2. Whenever a student fails to meet the eligibility requirements of subsection (a)(2) as a result of the application of this subsection and subsequent to that failure the student has academic standing consistent with the requirements for graduation, as determined by the institution, for any grading period, the student may, subject to this subsection, again be eligible under subsection (a)(2) for a grant, loan, or work assistance under this title.
    3. Any institution of higher education at which the student is in attendance may waive the provisions of paragraph (1) or paragraph (2) of this subsection for undue hardship based on --
      1. the death of a relative of the student,
      2. the personal injury or illness of the student, or
      3. special circumstances as determined by the institution.

Section 472 [20 USC 1087ll]

For the purpose of this title, the term ''cost of attendance'' means --

  1. tuition and fees normally assessed a student carrying the same academic workload as determined by the institution, and including costs for rental or purchase of any equipment, materials, or supplies required of all students in the same course of study;
  2. an allowance for books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous personal expenses, including a reasonable allowance for the documented rental or purchase of a personal computer, for a student attending the institution on at least a half-time basis, as determined by the institution;
  3. an allowance (as determined by the institution) for room and board costs incurred by the student which --
    1. shall be an allowance determined by the institution for a student without dependents residing at home with parents;
    2. for students without dependents residing in institutionally owned or operated housing, shall be a standard allowance determined by the institution based on the amount normally assessed most of its residents for room and board; and
    3. for all other students shall be an allowance based on the expenses reasonably incurred by such students for room and board;
  4. for less than half-time students (as determined by the institution) tuition and fees and an allowance for only --
    1. books, supplies, and transportation (as determined by the institution);
    2. dependent care expenses (determined in accordance with paragraph (8)); and
    3. room and board costs (determined in accordance with paragraph (3)), except that a student may receive an allowance for such costs under this subparagraph for not more than 3 semesters or the equivalent, of which not more than 2 semesters or the equivalent may be consecutive;
  5. for a student engaged in a program of study by correspondence, only tuition and fees and, if required, books and supplies, travel, and room and board costs incurred specifically in fulfilling a required period of residential training;
  6. for incarcerated students only tuition and fees and, if required, books and supplies;
  7. for a student enrolled in an academic program in a program of study abroad approved for credit by the student's home institution, reasonable costs associated with such study (as determined by the institution at which such student is enrolled);
  8. for a student with one or more dependents, an allowance based on the estimated actual expenses incurred for such dependent care, based on the number and age of such dependents, except that --
    1. such allowance shall not exceed the reasonable cost in the community in which such student resides for the kind of care provided; and
    2. the period for which dependent care is required includes, but is not limited to, class-time, study-time, field work, internships, and commuting time;
  9. for a student with a disability, an allowance (as determined by the institution) for those expenses related to the student's disability, including special services, personal assistance, transportation, equipment, and supplies that are reasonably incurred and not provided for by other assisting agencies;
  10. for a student receiving all or part of the student's instruction by means of telecommunications technology, no distinction shall be made with respect to the mode of instruction in determining costs;
  11. for a student engaged in a work experience under a cooperative education program, an allowance for reasonable costs associated with such employment (as determined by the institution);
  12. for a student who receives a loan under this or any other Federal law, or, at the option of the institution, a conventional student loan incurred by the student to cover a student's cost of attendance at the institution, an allowance for the actual cost of any loan fee, origination fee, or insurance premium charged to such student or such parent on such loan, or the average cost of any such fee or premium charged by the Secretary, lender, or guaranty agency making or insuring such loan, as the case may be; and
  13. at the option of the institution, for a student in a program requiring professional licensure or certification, the one-time cost of obtaining the first professional credentials (as determined by the institution).


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