last-minute money issues re: tuition - what should I do/say to college?

<p>Hi guys. I've lurked here and there on the Parent's Forum/Parent's Cafe for a long time and have read many threads from frantic students and many responses from wise parents. My situation today is not as complex or as unique as some of the other calls for help I've read, but I'm a little shellshocked right now and just am not quite sure which steps I should take. I would appreciate any advice, however simple :)</p>

<p>I'll try to keep this short. I will be a freshman in the fall, class of 2014. I did not apply for financial aid, because I did not think I would have to. Yesterday my father announced that he would not pay his share of my college fees; that share amounts to $36,000 including the employee child scholarship he refuses to sign his name on. My mother and I (poorer than well-off divorced father) cannot afford to pay this in addition to the $14,000 we were already having to pay. We may not be able to afford court, but even if we can, there is a chance that he still might get off with paying only $8000 due to some ambiguous language last time we were in court. So here I am, thinking about financial aid at the end of July. I don't even know if I am technically eligible for financial aid yet, because while my mother does not have much money, the divorce did leave us with the house which was (at one point, at least) quite expensive. I don't know if houses "count" towards financial profile re: aid; my college's FA site is not doing much to elucidate me on that point either. Another complication, minor or not: I signed the student bond last month with my mother and witness, confirming our intent to pay all outstanding financial balances. At the time my father had conveniently "forgotten" to sign it (I only needed one parent/guardian to), which in retrospect should have been a warning sign...</p>

<p>The money is due this coming Monday.</p>

<p>At this point it looks like I don't have many options. Clearly I should contact the student financial services office ASAP and explain my situation to them there. But as someone who is very inexperienced in regards to financial aid, student loans, negotiating financial contribution three days before the tuition deadline and months after financial aid applications closed, etc, and as someone who is maybe feeling just a little bit overwhelmed, I'm not really sure exactly what I should say to them. What topics should I bring up during my phone conversation and what kinds of questions should I ask?</p>

<p>This happens more than you would think which is very sad. At this time of the year, most colleges have little money to give out and those who look at both parents' financial situations are highly unlikely to get involved in this. It is a family situation. Is this a private or public school? Are you getting any financial/merit money from them? Have you committed to any loans? </p>

<p>If you can contact his employer about that scholarship and keep this business out of it, you just might get him to let those funds go. Maybe the financial aid office can assist with that end of it.</p>

<p>My good friend's ex husband pulled the same thing on them. The mom and daughter could not afford the college, so she had to apply to a local state school and commute. She did very well there and got some aid and a scholarship in subsequent years. It was not the college experience she wanted, but she made the most of it. </p>

<p>You certainly should go over the situation with the school, but I am not optimistic on what they will or even can do. If you have no loans at this point, you can take out the maximum stafford, but that isn't going to cover your $37K gap. Your mother, you say, is not in position to borrow the money.</p>

<p>Agreed with cpt. See if there is anyway the employer is able to facilitate getting the money released for that scholarship.</p>

<p>If the school is one that considers the income/assets of both parents, it is doubtful they will bend their rules just for you. As noted, unfortunately there are others in your situation as well. If the school expects non-custodial dad to contribute, that is their expectation and it is a family issue as to how to deal with it.</p>

<p>What to do?? </p>

<p>Well...if you cannot pay the bills, you need to come up with plan B. You could take a gap year and next year apply to schools where you won't need your dad's contributions to attend.</p>

<p>Or you could enroll in a community college and take general education courses there and then enroll in a public university as a sophomore.</p>

<p>A lot depends on what your mom is able to contribute herself. If she can pay for a public university in your state, perhaps there are still some that are accepting applicants, if not for this fall, perhaps for the spring term.</p>

<p>Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but in many states if there is not an agreement in place for college payment in divorce decree- father may only be responsible for 50% of in-state tuition if and when you go to court and some states don't even have provisions if you are over 18.</p>

<p>pol - Very sorry to see this happen to any accomplished student. You and your Mom certainly deserve better ... you especially.</p>

<p>Good advice above, though obviously it would be better if you could get over your shellshocked-ness before starting to make decisions. It's hard to make well-reasoned decisions when you're ambushed like this at the last moment. What I can suggest is dividing your "to do" list into two parts ... stuff that needs to be done immediately, like notifying your school and starting a dialogue with the FA office there ... and stuff that can wait a couple weeks, like deciding what your plan B is for the Fall, or deciding what to do about dear old Dad. All emotionally-charged decisions should go in pile #2. JMHO.</p>

<p>I am very sorry that you're going through this. I don't have advice, but want you to know that someone who doesn't know you is hoping that you find a way to work things out.</p>

<p>It's a private school. I didn't apply for financial aid while applying and unfortunately I didn't get any merit aid... I haven't committed to any loans yet but I guess I will have to!</p>

<p>We just called the business office and asked them to email him directly about the employee child scholarship (father works for the university in question, which should be... fun... next year when I see him around campus). With any luck he'll sign it under outside pressure before the deadline. That still leaves me with a $22K/year gap though, only $11k of which I have to take care of ASAP...</p>

<p>I'm starting to be more hopeful that I can somehow find a way to cover the gap. I may be able to call on extended family on my father's side, which is a long shot but would be worth it. I'm also lucky enough that my school makes a commitment to meet 100% of demonstrated financial need which in my panic I had somehow forgotten about. I'm just not sure how demonstrated my need is and how the fact that I'm bringing this up so late will affect the process. If I pull through in terms of money for my freshman year, they will be willing to meet 100% of my need for sophomore year on, right? So it is really just freshman year that I will have to somehow find money for, all things willing?</p>

<p>The other thing I really cannot figure out is if my mother's assets in regards to property make me ineligible for financial aid. (In terms of just monetary assets I'm probably eligible.) Something weird has happened to the FA site since I last visited it during the applications process - they've taken a lot of information down and I'm not sure how to locate any of the numbers I need. Do you think this would be the kind of thing that they could help me with over the phone, or will I have to submit all the forms and all that information before they could give me a basic yes/no?</p>

<p>I am currently trying to figure out if they are willing to consider just one parent as opposed to both, but I haven't located that information yet. I also don't remember seeing it the first time I checked the site in the spring, but it has to be on there somewhere...</p>

<p>^ I'm not sure the FA office can provide you a firm answer until you, your Mom, and probably your Dad fill out and sign the requisite forms. Still, it doesn't hurt to establish some contacts and get your story heard.</p>

<p>You need to talk to the financial aid office ASAP. You didn't apply for aid when you were applying...some schools DO consider that during admissions...AND if you don't apply as an incoming freshman, you are not allowed to apply for institutional aid later. You need to find out what your school's policy is...soon.</p>

<p>You should try to complete the FAFSA with your mom as soon as possible. In cases where the parents are divorced, the custodial parent ONLY lists income and assets on the FAFSA. Your dad won't have to. By completing the FAFSA, you will be able to take out Stafford loans which are in your (the student's) name. These will help cover some of your shortfall. </p>

<p>This is a rotten thing to have happen to you at this late date. I'm assuming that one of the perks of your dad's job is your tuition scholarship award. Hopefully that will work out for you as it's not coming out of your dad's pocket (well...depending on how it's structured, he may have to pay taxes on this amount and maybe that is why he is balking).</p>

<p>
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100% of my need

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</p>

<p>Lots of unknowns here. First...does the school REQUIRE noncustodial parent information...and if so, will your dad even complete the forms? If the school requires non-custodial parent info, your dad's income and assets AND your mom's will play into how the school computes your need. </p>

<p>And please do find out if the school even allows students to apply for institutional aid in subsequent years if the student does NOT do so as an incoming freshman.</p>

<p>All schools have a deadline for the FAFSA. I hope things turn out for you but it would have been nice if you had filled out the FAFSA anyway before deadline regardless of whether you thought you needed. </p>

<p>Maybe you can get your admission deferred to next semester in order to have time to find the money for it?</p>

<p>Ok, I will call them then. The business day is over now but I'll call tomorrow and leave a message at least.</p>

<p>I finally located my information - the college expects contribution from both natural parents, which puts me clear out of financial aid territory unfortunately. So I guess my next step is to discuss loans. Apparently the Federal Perkins loan is not available? I have no clue how that matters to me because I know nothing about these various options for loans, but there you go.</p>

<p>Thanks everyone for your replies and for your consideration. I'm starting to feel a little better now although obviously I still have much to do! :)</p>

<p>Yes, it would have been nice if I had filled out FAFSA, right? Really didn't expect to need it though, at that point I still thought my dad would be contributing...</p>

<p>I'll call the office ASAP :) thanks!</p>

<p>I'm trying to figure out right now how financial aid for continuing students work. I know there is some provision made for continuing students based on my acquaintances' experiences but I really don't know how things are stacked. It looks like the deadline for FA application for spring only is in October, which is nice except that as mentioned I don't think I'm eligible due to both parents being expected to contribute (tax forms for non-custodial parent provided).</p>

<p>Student employment which of course I will be pursuing is $11.50+/hr, so assuming I manage to snag a job that should contribute to some amount. Still trying to figure out what is up with loans.</p>

<p>YOU CAN FILL OUT THE FAFSA WITH YOUR MOM NOW!!!!</p>

<p>By completing the FAFSA, you will be eligible for a Stafford loan. Do this ASAP and submit it to your school. Perkins loans are limited funding loans...schools get an amount to disburse and once the money is gone, it's gone. It is unlikely that your school has any more Perkins money left to award. </p>

<p>What is your mom's income? Is it possibly below $30,000 a year? If so, you could be eligible for a Pell grant...I think. Pell eligibility is based on the FAFSA EFC and your father does NOT have to be listed on the FAFSA.</p>

<p>Yes, your school might have provisions for aid for continuing students. What you need to find out...is if you can apply for aid if you have NOT DONE SO AS AN INCOMING FRESHMAN...you didn't apply as an incoming freshman.</p>

<p>What you may not be eligible for is institutional need based aid which sounds like it's based on the income and assets of both of your parents. This sounds like it's your school's policy.</p>

<p>What you have to seriously figure out is just how much money your mom CAN pay since it sounds like you cannot depend on your dad's cooperation or support. Then you need to attend a college that works with that budget. If it can be this school...fine. BUT if not...figure out a plan B.</p>

<p>Maybe I'm reading too much between the lines, but the only logical reason that I can think that the dad won't help with the scholarship is because he knows that the balance is unaffordable, so why facilitate an unaffordable situation any further that might somehow come back to haunt him.</p>

<p>Another problem I see is this. The dad purposely did NOT sign the paperwork financially binding him to any costs, but the (poor) mom did. That means if schools starts and somehow money doesn't materialize, the mom is on hook, not the dad.</p>

<p>Since you still will owe $22k to the school, that doesn't sound like this scholarship is for full tuition...sounds like it's for 1/2 or 3/4 tuition. </p>

<p>This is a very rotten thing for your dad to pull at this moment. There's something behind this...he's angry at someone or something. Was the final divorce recent? Is he in a new relationship? </p>

<p>You need to get this settled before school starts. You may need to go elsewhere. Your mom cannot take on big debt for this.</p>

<p>Fill out FAFSA today. You can get a $5500 Stafford direct unsub student loan. You can't get a Perkins because it sounds like you don't have "need."</p>

<p>What is the COA breakdown of this school? Will you be living on campus or can you commute? What about books and other costs?</p>

<p>How far is this school from where you live? Could you make an appt to see a financial aid officer, rather than try to do this over the phone and making assumptions based on what appears to be an ever changing website?</p>

<p>While you may want to make your payment on time....and paying late is not a good ongoing practice....many schools allow students to enroll and make late payments. There may be a fee -- but you should pay whatever you can when the first payment is due, and explain that you will be paying the balance as soon as possible.</p>

<p>FYI...you mom's income , cash and cash-like assets are more significant inputs to most financial aid calculations than her home ownership. However, as noted by others, you are in a situation where you will also likely need your father's info. for the formal financial aid calculation.</p>

<p>Yes, sorry, that is what I meant - I think I can apply for aid as a continuing student without having applied as a freshman (site tells me to "please email Student Financial Services of your interest" if I am "applying for aid for the first time" in continuing students section)</p>

<p>I can theoretically commute, I live really close. (So I'll try to see if I can see someone from the FA office in person!) I think books should be fine, I can always borrow. I believe I'm only allowed to opt out of the full meal plan freshman year if I demonstrate need or something like that (this is hearsay, I'm still checking online). I know I can waive health plan.</p>

<p>My dad is just being obnoxious and mentally unstable. He can afford it ($200K/yr salary aka the reason why I can't apply for financial aid because they count his expected contribution :( ), he just doesn't want to. He tried to convince one of my friends (son of a colleague of his) to yell at me for me. He sent me an email that he would only sign the employee child scholarship form if we met for coffee, presumably so that he could yell at me by himself. I am unimpressed. However, I want the scholarship. Don't know if he will actually follow through and sign the form but potential $15K is worth it.</p>

<p>People are weird sometimes. That's all I have to say about that drama.</p>

<p>I am currently checking out FAFSA - looks like the deadline is tonight - thanks for the heads up!!!</p>

<p>See if you can find a way to stomach getting yelled at and having coffee with your Dad. Could be less stress, time and grief than what you're going to need to go through to find $15,000. (Although....I know that putting up with with dysfunctional people requires a high level of stress, time and grief to make it worth the alternative.)</p>

<p>Just make sure you bring the form with you and that he signs it.</p>

<p>The money is due this coming Monday.</p>

<p>Trying to get some clarification...</p>

<p>Your mom is prepared to pay her share - which is $14k</p>

<p>Your dad was supposed to pay his share - $22k + scholarship for a total of $36k?<br>
So, the employee scholarship is for $14k...right? Is that half of tuition? </p>

<p>I just don't see how this school is going to work out since the fall semester money is due on Monday. Even a federal student loan is only going to get you about $2700 for the first semester. Not enough. </p>

<p>Is your mom's $14k enough to pay for a state school? maybe with a student loan added in? Can you apply to a state school for spring semester?</p>

<p>What state are you in?</p>

<p>Did anything happen between your dad and you or your dad and your mom in recent weeks? This seems to all have fallen apart within the last few weeks. Were there any indication of any problems at your high school graduation?</p>

<p>If you complete the FAFSA you are entitled to take out a Stafford loan. You can do this at almost any time during the academic year. If you were eligible for a Pell grant, again, I believe you would receive it regardless of the date of your FAFSA. It is an entitlement. </p>

<p>Deadlines are for the colleges. The COLLEGE wants the information for their purposes...I do believe that if you are eligible for federally funded loans (Stafford) or the Pell, you'll get it. But your mom would have to be low income for this to happen.</p>

<p>You might want to post your query on the financial aid section of this forum. There are a couple of financial aid officers who post there and they are quite knowledgeable about the FAFSA and what it entitles you to. AND there are a lot of parents with good info about Profile schools and non-custodial parent issues.</p>

<p>
[quote]
He sent me an email that he would only sign the employee child scholarship form if we met for coffee, presumably so that he could yell at me by himself. I am unimpressed

[/quote]
Meet your dad for coffee, but bring a friend.</p>