The U.S. Department of Education (ED) added information in the new FSA handbook advising schools that verification completion and professional judgment (PJ) adjustments can now be entered on the same transaction. See the 2020/2021 FSA Handbook, AVG volume, page 127.
If you decide to use PJ for a student who is selected for verification by either ED or the school, you must complete verification first to ensure you have correct data. You may now make any PJ adjustment(s) on the same ISIR transaction. As a reminder, you must select the PJ option in the software in order to ensure the transaction is flagged as a PJ not just a correction. Also, you do not have to verify information that you will entirely remove due to PJ. ED provides an example, if a dependent student’s parents have separated after completion of the FAFSA and one parent is no longer in the household size and you decide to use PJ to remove that parent’s income from the FAFSA, you do not have to first verify his or her income.
ED is aware that the use of prior-prior year data on the FAFSA makes it more likely that PJ will apply. Schools need to follow the guidelines of determining and documenting each PJ case on an individual basis even though groups of students have similar circumstances as we are currently experiencing with the loss of jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You should not provide automatic identical treatment to all students in this situation. Refer to DCL GEN-16-03 for further information.