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American Rescue Plan (HEERF III): Professional Judgement Appeal

In accordance with the American Rescue Plan of 2021 that was signed into law by Congress in March 2021, the University of Tennessee’s Office of Financial Aid & Scholarships is providing an opportunity for students and/or their families to learn about Professional Judgement and how potential impact to income, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, might enable them to be eligible for an appeal review of their financial aid and scholarships.


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What is Professional Judgement?

Financial aid eligibility for each academic year is calculated based on the information you provided on the FAFSA. The income and asset information that you submitted was evaluated by a formula called Federal Methodology as set by Congress. This formula assumes that 2019 income is a good predictor of the family’s financial strength during the student’s 2021–2022 enrollment. Based on this assumption, financial aid eligibility is determined using 2019 tax return information.

Situations that may merit appeal include, but are not limited to:

  • Loss or change of employment
  • Loss or change in amount of child support, Social Security, or other benefits
  • Divorce or separation of parents
  • Death of parent(s)
  • Unusual medical expenses (not covered by insurance)
  • One-time taxable income used for life changing events (e.g. IRA, pension distribution, back-year Social Security payments)
  • Parent retired
  • Marriage of the student

Situations that do NOT merit appeal include, but are not limited to:

  • Standard living expenses (e.g. utilities, credit card payments, children’s allowances, etc.)
  • Mortgage payments
  • Car payments
  • Credit card or other personal debts
  • Vacation expenses
  • All other discretionary expenses
  • Reduction in assets due to market changes

How to Submit Your Appeal

The first step in completing an appeal is to contact One Stop Student Services by phone or email to explain your situation. You will be directed to a Financial Aid Counselor who will discuss the specifics of your situation to determine if you should submit this appeal. If they determine that you are eligible to submit this appeal, they will update your account with the list of documents that will be required for the type of appeal you request. Once all requested documentation has been received, your appeal will be reviewed by the Appeal Committee.

If Your Appeal Is Approved

Your FAFSA will be updated in accordance with the Appeal Committee’s findings, and additional financial aid, including HEERF III aid, could be provided based on eligibility and availability of funds. Please note that an approved appeal is not a guarantee of additional financial aid.

If Your Appeal Is Denied

Appeal results are final. Your appeal will be closed and will not be reviewed again by the Appeal Committee unless you are able to provide additional documentation that was not previously submitted with the original appeal.