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What do you do when your parents won't speak with you about finances?

lldm21lldm21 Posts: 1,392Registered User Senior Member
edited April 2013 in Parents Forum
I'm not sure whether to put this in the FA forum or here, but I think I might get better responses here.

My parents are separated (not divorced), and I live with my mother; however, my mother is wholly unwilling to speak with me about finances because she thinks that I'll get full aid at *any* school that I apply to, even if I were planning on applying to Yale (note: I have a 1350/2040 SAT at the moment...), and that our financial situation is essentially none of my business. My father also doesn't want to talk about it, but I know that he will if I explain why I need to know.

Combined, my parents probably make over $100k, but under $200k. My mother isn't willing to pay anything ("maybe a couple textbooks if I have to, but that's about it"), and my father is willing to pay as much as he can, but, even though he makes more than my mother, he won't be able to pay much.

What do I do? I'm currently a junior, and it's difficult to carry on my college search when I don't know what schools to look at due to funds; I'm trying to be realistic and not set myself up for disappointment. I'm doing this all on my own as well.
Post edited by lldm21 on
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Replies to: What do you do when your parents won't speak with you about finances?

  • LakemomLakemom Posts: 2,550Registered User Senior Member
    We didn't apply for FA so I'm not sure if what I write is true. Tell you mother that no school will offer FA unless the Fafsa forms are filled out. This is obviously so because they have no intentions of giving money to people who don't need it. So she can fill out the forms without you watching her so you will not know what she puts down, only the schools will.

    So just keep emphasising that no school, anywhere, will give FA if the forms aren't filled out.

    In terms of your dad. I don't know how it works as to where his income goes on the forms. That is up to your mom to find out. Make her problem. Again, she has to do the forms or no school will give money. If she wants you to do the forms, you still need to do them with her as she needs info from her income tax return.

    In terms of your school list. Your instate option should be on the list since it frequently is the lowest tuition. There are threads here that talk about schools with merit money and full or partial rides. So you will have to hunt. You just need to have a couple of options that you know will provide good money. Then the other schools can be those you just hope give good money. :)

    One last thought, perhaps contacting the FA office at your in state option and see if there is someone who could talk about FA to your mom so it also comes from another adult.
  • tomenowtomenow Posts: 51Registered User Junior Member
    I'm a senior, not a parent, but I can tell you from my personal experience with this problem to apply to many different types of schools in the safety/low match range. Focus a LOT of your effort on finding schools that you do like but that will give someone with your stats lots of merit. Apply to reaches like Yale, but remember that you absolutely do not want to be in a bind if your mother isn't willing to pay and your father can't pay but they make enough for a high EFC. I got through this without parental help on anything BUT the FAFSA, because my mother, like yours, thought our finances were none of my business.
  • lldm21lldm21 Posts: 1,392Registered User Senior Member
    My highest reach will be Wesleyan University or Brown (although I most likely will not be applying to Brown), assuming my SAT score turns out to be ~2250, and the majority of my remaining schools are indeed match/safeties.

    Tomenow, how many schools did you apply to?

    @Lakemom: Thank you for the advice =). I really do not want to attend to UConn, but I suppose it would be foolish not to apply anyway.
  • purpleacornpurpleacorn Posts: 1,363Registered User Senior Member
    Keep on working on your mother. Show her the NPCs and have her run the numbers herselves, maybe, and see the actual numbers of aid. I know of some parents of friends who did refuse to let kids know what exactly they made, but they were proactive in telling them that they couldn't afford x, y, and z, but a and b were possible.

    And I'll echo tomenow to have at least one automatic full-ride in a major you like. If your parents are divorced and unwilling to cooperate with FA, it could very well be that at this time next year, when you are a senior, they're still uncooperative. Also, know that you will need their cooperation all four years for FA-- if that's not possible, look into full-rides where you won't need your parents anymore.
  • lldm21lldm21 Posts: 1,392Registered User Senior Member
    She wouldn't be willing to put in the effort to do so and she's basically uninterested in the process as a whole; I'm completely on my own with this. That's a good point, though... I forgot that I'd be going through this every year. Maybe going with a full ride would be much easier.

    More info:

    *Female URM (Native, African, Caucasian)
    *Major Possibilities: Computer Science/Programming, Psychology, Chemistry/Biology, Neuroscience
  • rockymtnhighrockymtnhigh Posts: 838Registered User Member
    While I do not know schools in Connecticut, I know in Colorado there are very decent schools for instate that one could go full ride tuition and get a job for R & B. They are very nice schools. You may have to look at these types of schools in your state. It can happen. Make sure your safeties in state are a wide range (like all of them to start). And retake the SAT. The best of luck. I am impressed by your persistence.
  • intparentintparent Posts: 12,333Registered User Senior Member
    Can you tell her that there are 10,000 colleges in the US, and you really don't know where it makes sense to focus your efforts if she won't help you with this? Then ask her to fill out the Net Price Calculator (NPC) at a few schools online with you. That will tell you how much need based aid you would get if only her finances are considered. Then... ask your dad to do the same with his finances. You should be able to see (between the two) what the colleges EXPECT your parents to contribute. If your mom really intends to pay nothing, then you could see what your gap will be. It might help if she can see the gap, too (something parents get shaken out of their complacency when they see those calculator results). Having her use the FAFSA calculator to see what your EFC is would also be a good idea.

    I will be blunt. If your mom really won't pay more than a few hundred dollars a year, you are likely going to need to find some less expensive options. In-state colleges, or colleges where your stats are high and you may get big merit scholarships. You are going to have to consider finances above pretty much all else, I am afraid. The colleges don't care at all that your mom doesn't want to pay. They will expect to have her fill out the forms and provide tax returns, or they will give NO need based aid. If you live with your mom and her income is lower, you could consider a couple of FAFSA-only schools (typically public universities, and you mostly want in-state ones unless they are known for giving big merit to OOS students with good stats). If your mom will fill out the FAFSA, you can get more aid than if your dad's income is taken into account (which all the top private schools will do).

    If your mom genuinely will not fill out the forms no matter what, you may have to consider community college. Can you get someone else to talk to her? Do you have any relatives whose kids have been through this? Or can you talk to your high school guidance counselor and see if they are willing to meet with you and your mom, and ask them to encourage her to do the FAFSA calculator and the NPCs?
  • MichiganGeorgiaMichiganGeorgia Posts: 2,106Registered User Senior Member
    op- Every college you apply to is going to have an application fee. In addition you are going to have to pay to have your SAT scores sent to them. Unless you have money of your own to spend on those fees your mom is going to need to get involved. If she doesn't want to let you know how much she makes then have her fill out the fafsa by herself that will give her an estimate of how much she would be expected to pay. Have her tell you what that amount is.That will give you an idea of the minimum it is going to cost you plus any self help(ie loans). Remember if you do not have enough money you will need to take out loans and you can only take out so much without her or your dad co-signing. Your best bet is to raise your SAT or take the ACT and see if you do better on it. I don't know what your GPA is but if it is at least a 3.5 your already qualify for 2/3 free tuition at University of Alabama and if you could raise it some you could get free tuition there. There are a number of other schools that if you can raise your SAT will give you good merit aid. Good luck!

    BTW our DS is a senior this year. I am a stay-at-home mom . My husband does not want the kids to know how much he makes so I filled out the all the forms. We did however tell him the maximum amount we were going to pay. He picked one that cost less.
  • lldm21lldm21 Posts: 1,392Registered User Senior Member
    You guys are incredibly helpful; thank you so much.

    Yes, my current SAT practice tests are indicating 750-800 for CR, well over 700 for W assuming a 10 essay (assuming a 12 I've been getting consistent 780s), and 600s for Math. I'm going to be working very hard over the next couple weeks to raise my math score to low 700s, which will put me in the 2200-2300 range by the time I retake in May. My GPA is a 4.0, and I'm almost in the top 3% of my class (8/264).

    I've tried to get her to fill it out herself before, but she has refused (again, no interest). I was actually already thinking about asking my guidance counselor to schedule a meeting with my parents to talk about this, but I'll ask her to fill it out one more time before I do so.
  • cptofthehousecptofthehouse Posts: 24,292Registered User Senior Member
    You cannot make someone do what s/he refuses to do. You have stated your case, and you can continue to do so, however, you had better start doing what YOU can do which is make sure you have some sure options. This is something you and any and every person going through the process should be doing anyways. But in your case, make sure you have a number of such options.

    A lot of kids are and have been in your situation. Too many of them end up getting accepted to schools and then the two parents cannot put it together to come up with enough to pay for it, and a local state option is where the student ends up, especially if no other choices were explored and included on the list. My son went out with a vivacious young woman in that situation. She is not in college at all, when it turned out neither parent could come up with anything for college.
  • sally305sally305 Posts: 5,970Registered User Senior Member
    It sounds to me like you are caught in the middle of your parents' divorce issues. Your mom seems to be trying to make sure your dad steps up on your behalf. Right now, there is not much you can do about it, but when you apply to college both parents' income will be counted. Whether or not they plan to put some of it toward your education is another story.

    If I were you, I would look into some LACs that appeal to you--not the "top" ones but others where your stats are at the high end of their admitted students' range. You are a good student and might get merit aid at a number of them.
  • lldm21lldm21 Posts: 1,392Registered User Senior Member
    Sorry, by separated I meant that they never married! My parents haven't been together since I was 5 :P. No, my mother genuinely believes that I should get in anywhere and that it shouldn't cost her a cent. Also, my dad has taken a larger role in my life than my mother has, despite the fact that I live with her.

    I'm wondering though: at what point will a "safety" school automatically reject you because they know that you most likely will not be attending, based on your scores? I've heard of a few cases like that...
  • sally305sally305 Posts: 5,970Registered User Senior Member
    Don't worry about that. It's basically a CC myth as far as I can tell. Plenty of smart kids go to "safeties" for reasons of finances, location, or strength in a major--along with other, less logical reasons like following a girlfriend/boyfriend, being a fan of the school's football team, or whatever.
  • coralbrookcoralbrook Posts: 1,233Registered User Senior Member
    The best thing that you can do is review colleges where your GPA and Test Scores are a good fit at their 75% or higher admission. You can review college admission statistics on several websites. Or you can delve into the Common Data Set for each college by googling their Common Data Set.

    Then you need to read the rules for FAFSA on whether they will require both parent's incomes on the form - I don't know the rules for unmarried parents. Most likely, the FAFSA is going to require both parent's income tax return information.

    Give your Dad a list of several colleges that you are interested in. Ask him to go to the college websites and search for the Net Price Calculator. He can enter all of the information privately and each school will return the net price after grants, scholarships and federal aid. That will be an eye opener for everyone.

    I'm not sure that your Mother understands that a full ride at any school is very rare. College isn't free.
  • JoBennyJoBenny Posts: 762Registered User Member
    Are the rules for unmarried parents different as far as FAFSA is concerned?

    Are you familiar with Questbridge?
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