College Preparation Tips for the Single Parents
Many times Single Parents get left out of the loop when they are filling out the financial portion of the college application, CSS Profile, or FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) for registering their child(ren) for college. I would like to provide the following tips:
Tip 1: FAFSA Report or CSS Profile
If you do not agree with your FAFSA report or CSS Profile, you can appeal or file a financial hardship with the individual college/university. In many cases, forms such as the FAFSA or CSS Profile do not provide an accurate picture or account of a family's financial situation. If you disagree with their assessment of your financial situation, you can submit a financial hardship letter with the college or university and provided them additional information on your financial status. This will allow the college/university to review your financial aid application and then you can try to get them to adjust your previous financial award packet. For instance, if the FAFSA SAR report states you can pay an EFC (Eligible Family Contribution) of $10,000 per year, but you know that your current financial situation won't allow you to pay that type of money per year. You can write a letter of financial hardship showing the reason why you can't pay the money. Also, it will show what impact it would have on your current income and obligations if you do. Please note this is done on a case by case basis and it is up to the college or university if they want to adjust your award letter. This is normally approved via the Director of Financial Aid or Financial Aid committee.
Tip 2: Non-custodial Parent Waivers:
If you are a single parent and do not want to consider the income of the Non-custodial Parent when they evaluate your family contribution, you can ask for a Non-custodial Parent waiver from the college or university. If approved, the college or university will not consider the income of the Non-custodial Parent, but rather the Custodial Parent only. You must contact each college/university on the process for applying for the waiver. Also, if you plan on asking for a Non-custodial Parent Waiver from a college or university, you don't have to include that non-custodial parent information on your FASFA, CSS Profile or college application information.
Tip 3: Denial Letters:
If you have been denied acceptance because of your GPA/test results and not because they had an overflow of students to apply, you might be able to still submit a letter asking them to consider you or your child for enrollment at the college or university. Many times you will have to talk to the Director of Admissions or the President in smaller colleges to prove why your child should be consider to attend the college/university. Many colleges/universities have allowance for special circumstances. One of your arguments could be to show the improvements that your child has made over the last one-two years of high school. Showing that the child is focus and can maintain the requirements to keep the grades required attending and graduating from the college/university.
Tip 4: Visiting the College/University
I advise anyone who has a college or university that they are seriously considering to make an appointment to visit the college or university prior to making your selection or trying to sell the case of why you or your child should be admitted or provided additional financial assistance. One college director from a prestige college told me that it makes a difference when the parent comes in person to make a case for financial assistance. Overall, you should seek and believe in the impossible and to not give up until the "fat lady sings".
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Tip 5: Waivering College Application Fees
If you would like for your child to apply for more than one college and you can't afford the applications fee you can do the following:
1. If your child is on free or reduce lunch you can ask your school for a waiver of fees, if the school allows waivers. Please verify with the college/university if they allow for waivers of fees.
2. If you have a financial hardship you can check with the college/university to see the procedure for getting a waiver.
Tip 6: Scheduled a One on One Meeting with the Guidance Counselor
It is important that you take the "we" approach in your child's future. Although many schools have a big meeting with the parents, students and gudiance counselor to go over college preparation and what is expected in the process. The parent along with the child needs to scheduled a one-on-one at the beginning of the school year. The meeting will allow you and your child to answer any questions or concerns you may have.
There is already a pre-determined college time-line process and you must be on their time and not yours.
Please don't leave the meeting still needing answers, if you can't get them all schedule another meeting in the future.
Remember what you put in the preparation process will determine what you get out.
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