If you’re applying for financial aid this fall, the process may be different. Here’s why: Your financial aid forms for the 2021 to 2022 academic year will consider your family’s income from 2019. If your income has been impacted by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, you may need to ask for an awards adjustment.
As The Wall Street Journal reports, you always have the an option to ask for an awards adjustment based on your family’s circumstances. Here’s how to get started:
Starting on October 1, you will have access to two forms: the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the College Board’s CSS Profile. Both are an important part of the financial aid process every year, and some schools may require both forms.
If your family’s income has been impacted by the pandemic, you may explain more about these changes in the “special circumstances” section of your CSS Profile. You can learn more about the CSS Profile in this how-to video, or you may contact the College Board with specific questions.
If your income has been impacted by COVID-19 in 2020, you should plan on submitting an appeal to your current school—or all the schools you are considering—to ask for a financial aid award adjustment.
G/O Media may get a commission
Start by visiting each school’s website to learn about the process for financial aid adjustments. You may need to search for the school’s name + “professional judgment” + “loss of income appeal” to find the right information.
The process for each school will be different, so it’s critical to write down the exact guidelines you need to know. Make note of each school’s appeals deadline, and consider setting a reminder. (Here’s an example of the University of Massachusetts Lowell’s process.)
You should submit what the school asks for—nothing more and nothing less, according to experts—for the best chance of approval. For example, the school may ask for documentation about your income changes, such a statement on letterhead, paycheck stubs, or other proof of income.
With more families asking for a professional judgment this year, the process may take longer than usual. Make sure you schedule some follow-ups to confirm that each school received the required documentation. Once you know everything has been received, don’t hesitate to call and check on