Professional Judgements

Income Adjustments

Eligibility for financial aid is determined by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which uses financial information from two years prior to estimate a household’s current circumstances. The PSC Office of Financial Aid knows families can experience changes in income and/or other finances that are not reflected in their information from two years ago. When this occurs, the Financial Aid Office can review a student’s FAFSA and their family’s circumstance(s) on a case-by-case basis using a process called “Professional Judgement”. Professional Judgment allows the Financial Aid Office to adjust the FAFSA. If the change reduces the student’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC), it may result in an increase to the amount of financial aid they’re eligible for.

To request a review of your special circumstances,  submit the “Special Circumstances Request” form, found on our Forms webpage. Be sure to submit all documentation listed on page two of the form, including a signed, written statement.

Circumstances Leading to Income Adjustments

The following are examples of special circumstances that may be considered for Professional Judgment:

  • Loss of employment
  • Substantial decrease in income
  • Change in financial situation due to separation, divorce, or death of a parent or spouse
  • Loss of untaxed income reported on FAFSA (ex: child support)
  • One-time income (ex: lottery winnings, IRA distribution)
  • Exceptionally high medical expenses
Circumstances Not Eligible for Income Adjustment

Not all special circumstances can be considered for a Professional Judgement. Here are some examples of situations that would not be considered:

  • Credit card or other debt
  • Vacation expenses
  • Standard living expenses
  • All other discretionary expenses

Note: students that already have a zero Expected Family Contribution (EFC) will usually not benefit from a Professional Judgement since they’re already receiving the maximum amount of financial aid available.

Cost of Attendance Adjustments

The PSC Financial Aid Office can also adjust a student’s Cost of Attendance using Professional Judgement. The Cost of Attendance is the average annual cost to attend Paul Smith’s College and can be found on the student’s award offer and in their financial aid portal. It is used to calculate how much financial aid a student is eligible for and consists of direct costs such as tuition, fees, and on-campus housing; and indirect costs such as books/supplies, off-campus living expenses, transportation, and personal expenses. When approved, an increase in the student’s Cost of Attendance typically allows the student to borrow additional loan funds. Students must provide documentation of their additional expenses.

Circumstances Eligible for Cost of Attendance Adjustment

The following are examples of expenses that can increase Cost of Attendance:

  • One-time purchase of a computer
  • Actual book/supply costs that exceed estimate
  • Disability expenses
  • Dependent/Childcare expenses
  • Purchase of airline ticket to get to from campus each semester, if they exceed estimated transportation expense
Circumstances not eligible for review

Examples of expenses that cannot be used to increase Cost of Attendance:

  • Purchase of a vehicle
  • Parking or Disciplinary Fines 
  • Cost of coursework not required for degree program



Contact Us »

Office of Financial Aid

Paul Smith's College
Phelps Smith Admin Building
Room 103
PO Box 265
Paul Smiths, NY 12970-0265
(518) 327-6248
(800) 421-2605
(518) 327-6055: fax

Hours: M-F, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.