American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Outreach to Financial Aid Applicants

American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Outreach to Financial Aid Applicants

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARP) requires institutions receiving Higher Education Emergency Relief Funds (HEERF) to conduct direct outreach to its financial aid applicants and inform them of the opportunity to receive a financial aid adjustment due to significant changes in the student or family member’s financial situation.

Students with documented special circumstances that have negatively affected the family’s recent financial situation may be eligible for a financial aid Special Condition or a Professional Judgment Adjustment.  Examples of special circumstances are outlined in the FAQ’s below.  To request a Special Condition or Professional Judgment Adjustment, follow these simple steps:

#1
  • File the 2021/22 FAFSA at www.fafsa.gov
  • Provide all required documents
#2
  • Complete the RCC Request for a Special Condition or Professional Judgment Adjustment
  • Provide all required documents

Frequently Asked Questions

Each individual circumstance will be judged on a case-by-case basis.  Here are some of the most common special conditions that warrant an adjustment:

  • The student or parent has lost a job or there has been a permanent reduction in work hours that has caused a significant decline in household income.
  • The student or parent has filed for or gone through personal bankruptcy.
  • The student or parent has experienced a significant loss of child support.
  • The student or parent has experienced a significant increase to non-reimbursed medical or child care expenses.
  • The student or parent has recently separated or divorced.
  • There has been a death in the immediate family.
  • The student or parent took a distribution from a pension or retirement plan as a one-time payment to help cover expenses.
You are encouraged to inform the Financial Aid Office of your current financial circumstances so that you could potentially receive more federal student aid (Pell Grant, Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (SEOG), Federal Work Study, and/or Federal Student Loans). Requesting a Special Condition or Professional Judgment is optional.

Students must submit additional financial documentation to support their claim of the special circumstance and the more recent household income. Below is a list of typical supporting documentation that must be provided:

  • The 2020 student IRS Tax Return Transcript or the signed copy of the tax return.
  • For married students, your spouse’s 2020 IRS Tax Return Transcript or the signed copy of the tax return.
  • For dependent students, your parent’s 2020 IRS Tax Return Transcript or the signed copy of the tax return.
  • If the student or parent did not file a tax return in 2020, all W-2’s for 2020 must be submitted.
  • Documentation of year-to-date 2021 income for the appropriate individuals (student, spouse, if married, and parent, if dependent).

Financial Aid will generally respond in 7 to 10 days with either a request for additional information or revised federal aid awards. Students requesting an adjustment may contact [email protected] for more information.

Sometimes the changes in a family’s financial situation from 2019 to 2020 or 2021 are not significant enough for the aid eligibility to change. Financial Aid will be able to provide you with specific information related to your request.

If you are already receiving the maximum Pell Grant you cannot receive additional Pell Grant funding beyond that. If you are also receiving a federal student loan, there may be a reason to request a Special Condition or Professional Judgment Adjustment to increase your Subsidized Direct Student Loan. Contact [email protected] for more information.

Please note:  The Financial Aid Office will review each request on a case-by-case basis to determine a student’s eligibility for a Special Condition or Professional Judgment Adjustment. Decisions regarding Special Conditions and Professional Judgment Adjustments are at the discretion of the individual campus and cannot be appealed to the Department of Education.