This article originally appeared here on November 19th, 2015. It was updated and reposted here on September 6th, 2018.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post for parents who erroneously believe that if they’ll just refuse to put their financial info on their child’s FAFSA form, their child will get additional financial aid for college.
Student, if your parents are refusing to help you—here’s what you can do to help yourself.
1. Remember, the FAFSA is the most common financial aid application form, and it requires only the financial information of “certain parents.”
The FAFSA requires only the household financial information of the parent you lived with the most during the 365 day period being examined for your financial aid eligibility. (This “household financial info” will include the stepparent sleeping down the hall from you, however, so be aware of that.) The divorced dad you don’t live with isn’t looked at at all on the FAFSA form, so don’t worry about him.
2. Gently, with great respect, ask these parents to reconsider.
This post may be all you need to change your parents’ minds and influence them to at least fill out the forms so that you can get lower interest loans for college and pay for it yourself, if that becomes necessary.
If they still won’t (or can’t) help you, try these more drastic measures.
3. Talk to someone in a college financial aid office.
Schedule a phone or in-person appointment with a staff person in a college financial aid office. Talk to him or her about this.
Sometimes financial aid officers are able to talk to parents and convince them that it’s safe and confidential for them to at least fill out the financial aid forms—even if the parents are firmly set against paying any money.
In some very very rare instances the college’s financial aid office may even be able to grant you independence from your parents by providing you with what is called a “dependency override.” “Dependency overrides” are very difficult to get, though, and are usually reserved for unusual circumstances where, according to finaid.org:
“Parents are incarcerated or presumed dead
Student was sexually or physically abused by the parents or can document a hostile or neglectful relationship with his/her parents. The student will need to provide copies of protection from abuse orders, court documents, social worker reports, doctor reports, police records, and letters from clergy, as appropriate.
Parents cannot be located. For example, a student who emigrated to the U.S. without his/her parents, became a U.S. citizen, and has not been able to contact his/her parents (or even know whether they are still alive).
Student was legally adopted by their current guardian.
Student is Amish and has been shunned or banished because of his or her desire to seek an education and as a result no longer has any contact with family.”
4. Don’t even think of forging anything.
Whatever you do, don’t be tempted to forge financial aid application forms and sign your parents’ names to them. The penalties are severe, and you’ll most certainly be caught when the FAFSA form you fill out doesn’t perfectly match your parents’ tax returns.
5. If you’re thinking of getting married to increase your financial aid eligibility, be careful of two things that can mess you up financially:
* What matters is your marital status as of the date you submit your next FAFSA form. If you submit your FAFSA form on the first of the month and get married five days later, you will be considered dependent on your parents for financial aid purposes for the entire upcoming year. Federal law specifically prohibits colleges from changing a student’s marital status in the middle of a year.
* You may see some extra financial aid benefit if your married household income ends up to be less than your parents’ income (especially if you and your spouse are both attending college at the same time), however—remember that your new spouse’s income and assets will count as your income and assets in your financial aid application calculations. If your new spouse is wealthier than your parents are, that may negatively affect how much financial aid you’ll be awarded for college.
6. If your parents are afraid to fill out the FAFSA because of their citizenship status, here’s good news.
The U.S. Department of Education says this:
“Your parents’ citizenship status does not affect your eligibility for federal student aid. In fact, the FAFSA doesn’t even ask about your parents’ status. If your parent does not have a Social Security number, you may enter all zeroes for him or her on the FAFSA where it asks for that information.”
7. If worse comes to worse, you can hire an attorney to help you.
It is possible for you to hire an attorney to petition the court to have your parents’ parental rights terminated on the grounds of abandonment. In order for the court to grant this petition, though, you will likely need to provide evidence that your parents have ceased all support for and contact with you for at least one year.
8. If you’ll be in college during the 2019–2020 academic year, try to coax your parents to fill out the FAFSA on October 1st, 2018 (or as soon as possible after that).
This will put you first in line for financial aid money.
9. To get free help from me, subscribe to my email newsletter using the form on this site, whitelist it, and open it every single week.
I’ll be able to give you lots of free help and strategy that may help you to get your college paid for without financial aid. Here’s one strategy to get you started.
I hope this helps!
If you’ve found valuable info in this article, please help me by tweeting it out to the people who follow you.
Remember, getting financial aid and scholarships is only a small part of the picture when it comes to getting through college debt-free.
For clear, step-by-step help with the whole process, get your copy of my book:
You can “Look Inside” the book on Amazon for free by going to:
(Tell your friends.)
You can see why financial planners and wealth managers love LAUNCH, here.
You can see the top 9 questions parents are asking me about LAUNCH, here.
Read just one chapter of LAUNCH every 1–3 months while your child’s in middle school and high school, and you’ll know every viable strategy for debt-free college at exactly the right time to implement it.
And if your child’s already well past middle school? That’s OK; you can run to catch up. But the process of getting your kids through college debt-free goes more smoothly the earlier you start it—especially if you’re not planning to save up any money to pay for college.
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Who is Jeannie Burlowski?
Jeannie is a full time author, academic strategist, and speaker. Her writing and speaking help parents set their kids up to graduate college debt-free and move directly into careers they excel at and love. Her work has been featured in publications such as The Huffington Post, USA Today, NerdWallet, and US News and World Report.