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Financial Aid Question

chloecannoieschloecannoies Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
edited September 2017 in Financial Aid & Scholarships
I am a senior in high school and I have begun to apply to college. I'm filling out the coalition and common application, and I don't know what to put for parent income or involvement. My situation is hard to describe to colleges, so I am wondering if anyone here can help me do so.

My parents got divorced when I was in the 4th grade and I lived a pretty normal life. I spent 50% of the time at my dad's house, and 50% at my mom's (her boyfriend's) house. Unfortunately, my mom and dad both have mental health and substance abuse issues, and so what began as normal quickly transitioned to unstable. I don't want to go into detail on a public forum, but there were often fights and the police came quite a few times.

My parents had difficulty caring for themselves, and I try not to blame them, but my sister and I struggled to cope and faced a lot of (what I know was unintentional) mental abuse. I had to take care of my sister, and we often went with whatever parent was most "stable."

When I turned 16, and finally had transportation, I completely took over and became my sister's "mom." We stayed with my dad, but only when he has work (as to avoid spending time with him), as my mom's mental health issues increasingly worsened. When my dad was home we stayed with my mom, and her boyfriend (who tries very hard to help my mother, but can also contribute to the problem). To put it broadly, my sister and I took on a schedule best fit for survival, and our relationship with our parents deteriorated.

My dad has firmly decided to cut us off at eighteen, and my mom thinks we hate her, though when she is in a "good state" she tries her best to help my sister and I.

My dad supports me financially now, but this is out of a contractural obligation set forth when he and my mother divorce, and I know with almost 100% certainty that the only money I have for college is whatever was set aside when I was younger (10,000 dollars) and the money I have saved by working three jobs. I am 17 now and I no longer want my mother and father to have legal control over me, so this month my dad agreed to assist me in filing for emancipation.

As I apply to different colleges, I don't know what to do about inputting my parent's information. My dad makes a decent salary (more than 100k per year) and my mom does not make very much at all. I feel like the worst daughter in the world for saying this and I have crushing guilt over it, but I need to get far away from my parents because they have destroyed my mental health and I need to make something of myself.

I know they will not contribute to my college costs, and the knowledge that I will be expected to pay exorbitant amounts because of my father's salary gives me major anxiety and I feel lost. He refuses to support me once I turn 18 and I am emancipating myself, but because I stayed at his house when my mother was abusive, I am expected to include his financial information as though he can contribute to my projected college costs. I don't know what to do, or what to say to financial aid departments. I know there are kids that have it worse than I do and deserve financial aid, but I know that the only option I will have is loans that I can't even begin to pay because my parents are cutting me off. I have worked three jobs to try to cut into this before I even get to college, but that won't even begin to cover it.

I have worked so hard all my life and my counselor thinks I am good enough to get into Dartmouth or Vanderbilt, my dream schools, but I know that with my dad being considered as an income source, I don't have any chance at decent financial aid and I will be forced to stay at a community college because it is all I can afford. Is there anything that I can do?
Post edited by sybbie719 on

Replies to: Financial Aid Question

  • vonlostvonlost Super Moderator Posts: 26,370 Super Moderator
    edited September 2017
    Look into Dependency Override:

    http://cca-ct.org/financial aid 2008.pdf

    Read carefully. If you think you might qualify, contact the financial aid office of schools you want to attend.
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 66,651 Senior Member
    The emancipation process needs to be complete before your 18th birthday, I believe.

    Regardless...please get everything else settled. College can wait.
  • chloecannoieschloecannoies Registered User Posts: 2 New Member
    edited September 2017
    I have been dealing with this for ten years and I don't see it changing any time soon. I know I can handle myself and I have come to terms with my situation, I just have a lot of anxiety when it comes to applying to college because I don't want to misrepresent myself, but the applications don't allow me to properly communicate my situation. Plus this is all happening at a really garbage time because I am losing financial support, but if I don't handle financial aid properly I will be stuck trying to afford a tuition based on my parent's income.
  • twoinanddonetwoinanddone Registered User Posts: 16,004 Senior Member
    If you don't get the emancipation, you'll need a parent to complete the FAFSA. It is the parent with whom you live more days in the 365 days immediately before filing .It actually sounds like you live with your mother more days than your father. If your mother doesn't make much money, you may benefit from 'living' with her more than with your father.

    For the CSS, you'd have to report the income of both parents.

    Don't include the boyfriend.

    Just answer the questions asked. You can appeal with the facts as they really are after you are accepted. You would need to be emancipated from both parents. Is your mother also on board?
  • thumper1thumper1 Registered User Posts: 66,651 Senior Member
    If things can't be resolved...maybe a gap year?
  • blossomblossom Registered User Posts: 8,473 Senior Member
    OP- is there a social worker who has been involved with your situation? Someone appointed by the court during the divorce proceedings to protect you and your sister's interests? Start there. There are a lot of issues you are dealing with and getting the help of a professional who knows which resources are there for you is the first step. Especially since once you leave home your sister (a minor, correct?) still needs support.
  • mom2collegekidsmom2collegekids Registered User Posts: 82,989 Senior Member
    have worked so hard all my life and my counselor thinks I am good enough to get into Dartmouth or Vanderbilt, my dream schools, but I know that with my dad being considered as an income source, I don't have any chance at decent financial aid and I will be forced to stay at a community college because it is all I can afford. Is there anything that I can do?

    What are your stats? If they're good enough for vandy or Dartmouth then it sounds like they're high enough to get large merit awards elsewhere.

    Are you a nmsf
  • NJRoadieNJRoadie Registered User Posts: 529 Member
    My first piece of advice is: document.
    Get police reports, get doctor's notes from any injuries, make sure you are talking in detail to teachers, guidance counselors, pastors/religious leaders and family friends (adults) about what has happened/is happening to you. These people are authority figures and can later document by writing letters verifying your situation. You will not get a dependency override without multiple sources of verification.
    Either way you go (dependency override or emancipation) you are going to have to provide proof.

    Second piece of advice - apply for Horatio Alger scholarship (it closes early, like in mid-October). They give money over 4 years, and they are looking for kids who have shown resilience in the face of hardship. https://scholars.horatioalger.org/applicants/

    Third - try hard to think long term, not just in the next few years but 5-10 years. You may not get to attend undergrad at an ivy or high profile name school, but you may still get a degree you can afford. This will free you from crushing debt. By not having debt you will be able to get free and away from your family sooner. With debt you may be stuck living with them for longer.

    You said you have a (younger?) sister. Discuss this with her too - be a team and come up with a game plan first for survival, but longer term success too.

    If you look back thru some past posts I have made, you will see that my "foster" son had some significant biological-family problems, won Horatio Alger and Gates Millennium, and with knowledge gained here we helped him get a dependency override to free him from his bio family's control of the financial strings. I also have a cousin who had two horrible divorced parents (addiction, mental illness, markless abuse like locking away all the shampoo/soap from her). She managed to get herself thru SUNY Albany with an emancipation, a ridiculous amount of work, and graduated in 2014. She is currently employed by and deployed to St. Thomas with the Red Cross to help.

    This has been done by others, it can be done by you!
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