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Articles / Applying to College / Getting Financial Aid Without Dad's Info

Getting Financial Aid Without Dad's Info

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | Feb. 24, 2010

Question: I have recently applied for financial aid via the FAFSA, with the hope of getting the loan or grant I need to attend my local community college. However, my situation is somewhat complicated, because I am technically classified as dependent, but I cannot provide information on my father, since I lost contact with him a while ago when my parents divorced. My mother does not have a source of income, and therefore my parental info may seem insufficient. All I can provide is details on myself and was wondering if this would affect my chances of getting financial aid. What are the chances that FAFSA and the college will accept my application

for financial aid?

I consulted with financial aid expert Ann Playe (former associate director of admission and financial aid at Smith College, among other distinctions). She replied:

She should write a letter explaining the circumstances--that her father has not been in contact with her (she should specify number of years), and that he does not provide support to her or her mother. But, she should also explain how her mother is living, if she filed a FAFSA that showed no income for Mom, because the college will want an explanation.

Most financial aid officials have some leeway when it comes to awarding aid when there are extenuating circumstances. But in order to get this consideration, you will--as Ann suggests--have to provide the admission officials with an understanding of how your mother currently covers her expenses.

Sometimes students are embarrassed to divulge the true source of family income. But, trust me, financial folks are a lot like doctors ... there are very few scenarios they haven't seen.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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