NAICU Washington Update

Campus Administrators Have Leeway for Determining Eligibility for Federal Financial Aid

February 05, 2021

The Department of Education recently issued a Dear Colleague letter to campus financial aid administrators encouraging them to use their professional judgement in determining eligibility for federal financial aid to help students who are in need due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the letter, the Department reminded campus administrators that they “have the ability to adjust financial aid eligibility based on a student’s special circumstances, including for recently unemployed individuals who may not know that their changed circumstances could make them eligible for Federal Pell Grants and other need-based student aid.”  In making case-by-case determinations, the Department wrote, campus administrators “must obtain and retain in the affected student’s file documents supporting and substantiating the reasons for any adjustment.”

The Department’s letter, which extends a previous modification it announced for the 2019-20 and 2020-21 award years, also assured administrators that the increased use of professional judgement will not serve as a warning sign to the agency when conducting program reviews for the 2021-2022 award year. 

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