|By Joan (Jyber209) on Thursday, January 03, 2002 - 11:44 am: Edit|
I need advice. My daughter applied to 4 colleges (2 out-of-state publics and 2 private schools - she, of course, has her heart set on a private school she loves.) We indicated on the apps that she would not be applying for financial aid as we have resources and my husband had a healthy income.
Guess what? Today, Jan. 3, my husband lost his job and was offered a severance package - he'll have an additional 6 months pay and that's it. It will be very hard for him to find another job in his field, especially at his old pay level, at his age (50's).
We can pay for the first year of a private college from savings but after that will be, at most, middle income. Since financial aid is based on previous year's income, we would look insane applying for aid based on last year's figures. However, we are pretty certain our data won't be looking anything like that in the future. How should we plan? If hse goes to a private school as a freshman will she be able to get an aid package for future years if she doesn't qualify now? Should we discuss this with the schools?
Any advice would be appreciated.
|By amd on Thursday, January 03, 2002 - 11:51 am: Edit|
I think that you should definitely discuss this with the schools and 'get into the financial aid system', even if you won't be getting any aid for the first year. Good luck.
|By Dadster on Thursday, January 03, 2002 - 02:01 pm: Edit|
What a way to start the new year, Joan! Amd is right, Joan. Get in touch with the schools and explain the situation. They may direct you to complete a FAFSA, a Profile (some schools only), and/or the school's own form. Be sure to explain the situation wherever a form asks for special circumstances. Even if you don't qualify for aid in the fall, they might re-look at things for the spring semester.
Good luck! You are lucky that your husband got a decent severance package (these days, it seems, a couple of weeks is a lot!), but I'm sure it's a trying time.
|By R Storm (Anonrs) on Friday, January 04, 2002 - 04:03 am: Edit|
Joan, do take the time to talk to the finaid offices by phone but you should also formally send what is called a "Special Circumstances Letter" to the finaid offices. Chatting on the phone will not give the finaid office enough to either remember you and your situation or provide them with enough info to work with when they are pulling together packages. Here is a link that will give you guidelines in preparing this letter:
Trying to find the correct link, I have come across other entities that use the name "College Planning Network". This particular College Planning Network is a non-profit, college planning information resource located in Seattle. It's been around for several years now. It is an excellent resource funded by the Boeing Employee Credit Union and other Washington State institutions. I have found CPN to be an invaluable resource on all sorts of levels, but especially helpful in dealing with finaid issues.
I have used a "Special Circumstances Letter" in my dealings with my son's college. (He is now a Jr). The SCL needs to be sent directly to the colleges; do not enclose with the FAFSA or profile -- it will get tossed out and not forwarded on. The CSS Profile has a small section where you can write about Special Circumstances -- but it would be best to send individual letters to the individual schools. (For one thing, you will have more room to actually explain your situation). In your SCL, be sure to give what you consider a "doable figure" (perhaps start a bit lower than what you can afford); do not just explain your situation, it is important to have a family contribution figure for both sides to work from and to.
Be sure to communicate with the finaid offices as soon as possible; in finaid, the early bird gets the worm, and there are / will be many more families in your situation.
It is essential to verify with the finaid office whether or not any scholarships or grants (free money) is renewable in subsequent years and under what criteria. When comparing finaid packages, look at the four-year bottom line; some schools are known for "front-loading" finaid packages, ie very attractive freshman package to be replaced with loans in future years. BTW, with each year, the amount of student loans that your daughter qualifies for will increase. (These are signature loans).
|By R Storm (Anonrs) on Friday, January 04, 2002 - 05:34 am: Edit|
Finaid packages for the entire following year are put together in the Spring. So even if you think you might only need assistance with second semester, you need to APPLY NOW; otherwise it is quite likely that there will be NO need-based institutional grants, scholarship, work-study (think *free money*) available to your daughter second semester.
Start working on the FAFSA and Profile (if needed by the two private schools) NOW and submit as soon as possible. Find out if the school has its own form and get a copy sent out right away or, if available, download from website. (You can send in your Special Circumstances Letter with the school form). Most finaid offices WILL NOT put a finaid package together for you without the required documents in hand -- and it takes a few weeks to process the outside forms and to transmit them to the college. (Also, many colleges will not award merit scholarship / grants without finaid forms). It is perfectly acceptable to use rough estimates for the FAFSA and Profile, probably for the school form, too; the idea is to get them in ASAP. You will not only have ample time later to correct information but the colleges will also want to have copies of your signed tax return and W-2s to verify info anyway. (But try to get your taxes done ASAP so you can get your finaid package confirmed).
You will be able to accept or reject portions of the finaid package. You may choose TO ACCEPT or REJECT some, or all, of the loans that either you or your daughter qualifies for. (That does not mean that the college will provide scholarship / grants / work-study in the place of loans but rather that you choose to provide an alternate means of funding). In order to even apply for government grants, loans, and federal work-study programs, your daughter's school needs to "qualify" her; at bare minimum, they need the FAFSA to do so. (A school may have it's own insitutional work-study program).
Even if you initially reject a government loan, you may reserve the right re-instate a loan that your student has qualified for. Since studying abroad in Europe is considerably cheaper than private school in the US, we thought we could get by this year without our son taking out any Stafford loans. The events of September have affected our income stream and we have found it necessary to re-instate the Stafford loans for second semester -- but the key is that son has already been qualified by his school for the loans via the FAFSA and Profile turned in last January; we do not even need to submit any additional paperwork because his signature is already on file with the loan provider because of loans taken out in earlier years. (Not needing to re-sign loan papers may not be true at all schools in all states, esp if the student is from out-of-state and uses a loan provider in his home-state).
|By Joan (Jyber209) on Friday, January 04, 2002 - 01:57 pm: Edit|
Thank you all - your advice and support have been really helpful.
|By Cath on Tuesday, October 01, 2002 - 02:37 am: Edit|
I am praying for you and your situation. I just
have this "feeling" that things are going to
work out just fine. Praying too that your
husband gets back in the swing of things soon.
Been there myself...and done that too. Not fun, not easy, but... you'd be surprised how incredibly
generous the colleges can be particularly if
the students have done meritable work in high school. My both kids are on full-ride packages
at two awesome institutions. Neither were one of the top 10 students in the graduating class
however, they were outstanding in many areas
and great SAT's/ACT's, that sort of thing. PLUS, their enthusiam for the colleges they chose to
apply to. Don't hesitate to speak directly
to the admissions director and financial directors. Pour your heart out and promote
your student. There are more "gifted" hearts
in those offices than people know and more money
in the coffers of the universities than one
can imagine. Finally, where there is a will there
is A way!
Much good luck to you!
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