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Today I finally received my financial aid offer for Cornell University and I started to cry.
With a total income of less than 20k and an unemployed parent, my family is still expected to contribute $10,000 annually in addition to half that in loans + work-study. I was shocked, since I was expecting something like Micah's in the example: http://www.finaid.cornell.edu/types-aid/financial-aid-examples.
It turns out my dad (my noncustodial parent), who won't be paying a penny towards my education and has just gotten married again for the third time, is expected to pay most of this contribution. Because he won't, my mother will have to shoulder this burden instead, as Cornell disregards any court agreements between the two parents concerning college tuition payments.
On the other hand, for Berkeley, I only need to pay $5000 in loans and $3000 through work-study. The burden is completely on me, but I don't care as long as it doesn't affect my family.
What can I do? I would love to attend Cornell, but it's just not affordable at all. Is this something I can appeal? Maybe convert family contribution to more loans? Could I show them Berkeley's offer and ask them to match it, or at least lower the family contribution?