AccessLex Institute Research


Professional Judgment and Emergency Fund Programs: An Opportunity to Improve

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



COVID-19, emergency aid, estimated financial assistance, professional judgment, student financial aid


In Spring 2020, during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of students facing financial hardships increased as job losses mounted and schools closed their campuses. Schools, the federal government, and other organizations stepped in to help students deal with emergencies; but there are often hurdles to quickly getting emergency aid into the hands of students. While Title IV of the Higher Education Act provides a viable response mechanism through its emergency aid provisions, these provisions are underutilized. In this paper, we discuss ways in which schools can more effectively use professional judgment authority to quickly get emergency aid to students when they need it. We also discuss ways in which Congress can improve federal policy by removing needless restrictions.