Should Natasha Get Married For the Financial Aid?

Hi Judge Josh. I read most of your articles, and find them very interesting.


However, I haven’t read one that helps me in my situation.


My senior year of high school, I participated in the joint-enrollment program, taking 2 classes in high school, and 2 at a university. Unfortunately, I failed one class (I blame “senioritis”) and made up for it in summer school.

Ouch. Was it one of the college courses or one of the high school courses? Hopefully one of the high school ones, since the colleges you try to transfer into later will care more about your college grades than high school. But honestly, even if you made up the class you failed in summer school, it’s going to be hard to pull scholarships in any contest that requires a transcript (since there will be many other competitors who didn’t fail any classes). However, remember that with essay-only scholarships, no one knows about the classes you passed or failed.

Just a thought.

It was my first F and except for 2 C’s, I made A’s and B’s in highschool (I was also in honors classes). In the end, I was still able to receive the Hope Scholarship for my freshman year of college. I then messed around some more and failed one class and got a C in another and lost the Hope scholarship (I also made an A and 3 B’s.

Ouch again…that’s a really good scholarship (the HOPE Scholarship in Georgia pays your full tuition for in-state public universities if you graduate from high school with a 3.0).

I took a semester off and then paid out of pocket to take 2 classes at a cheap school, and made 2 A’s. I now have about a 2.5. I have slightly above average SAT scores and a really good composite score on my ACT.

Taking two cheap classes and getting A’s was a good move. I think I’ll end up recommending more of that, but go on…

My problem is, although I’ve supported myself for the past year, I cannot claim independent on the FAFSA, and I just read an article that it is very difficult for colleges to make an exemption to the FAFSA regarding independents and dependents.

My dad, although according to tax information should be able to, isn’t helping me pay for school. He received a pay cut last year, and my brother was also hospitalized for a month due to a virus that paralyzed him from the waist down (he’s recovered now, but my Dad hasn’t recovered from the bills).

That is actually an EXTREMELY common complaint about the FAFSA system, possibly the most common of all: students whose EFC (estimated family contribution) is calculated with the assumption that the parents will help pay for the student’s college, when in fact they won’t help. The federal government’s answer to those students is, 90% of the time — “tough shit.” It sucks and I hate to repeat it, but (as you probably already knew before you wrote me) it’s true.

I’m only 19, and I want to get through school with the least amount of debt possible (as my fiance already has enough school debt). My fiance and I recently moved to a new state and I’m considered out-of-state as well.

Understandable, because student loan debt can really suck away your will to live. Not to get all up in your business, but, how “engaged” are you, exactly? Got a date set? Or is it one of those things where you’re so madly in love that you want to call yourself something better than boyfriend/girlfriend, but not quite in love enough to book a wedding? 🙂

Remember, married students are independent students, regardless of age. You know, marry for love and do it for the right reasons, yada yada yada — but if you’re really going to get married eventually, tell the boy to put a ring on your finger early and then bam, you’re an independent student. If I understand your financial situation correctly, then, it sounds like your financial need will skyrocket and you’ll eligible for a lot more aid.

Do you have any suggestions that can help me get on the right track for a good education without a lot of debt? I appreciate any suggestions you may have.


Well, other than the Vegas drive-in wedding, community college is something I preach a lot around these parts and it sounds like it would be ideal for you also. The fact that you were awarded the Hope Scholarship and then lost it because you didn’t keep your grades up — that’s going to scare most judges I know away from ever giving you another scholarship. They’re likely to think that if you weren’t motivated to hold on to a scholarship worth as much money as the Hope Scholarship, then why would you be motivated to do well if you got another one? (I’m not trying to be mean — just honest.)

However, community college is a great thing because it’s not very expensive to begin with, and I advise you to do your first two years of courses there. Cost is low to begin with, and if you can’t pay for all of it, the the loans you take out will be minimal.

How about you guys? Any advice for Natasha? Let us know in the comments below.

57 thoughts on “Should Natasha Get Married For the Financial Aid?”

  1. Natasha sounds like me at 18 when everyone else was going to college in the mid 80’s.

    My parents were not supportive pressuring marriage/family and felt a woman getting an education was a waste of time. I scored top 1/2% of all HS students in my SAT’s and was accepted everywhere I applied.

    I think it SUCKS that even though you are 18 and living on your own, the government prevents you financial assistance because your parents are screwballs. Maybe one day this will change.

    The worst thing you could ever do is listen to the stupid guidance counselors about getting married and/or getting pregnant. When I was going through my plight, I was told if I went out and “got high” with coke or heroin, I could have a great time and then go check into rehab at city hospital where they couldn’t turn me away for no insurance. If I was a “recovering drug addict” I would have my tuition paid under some program.

    When I rejected this method, I was told to get pregnant but whatever you do don’t marry the father. At 19 that would have been a disaster as I was barely scraping by taking care of myself and living in some scary places.

    Getting married for a student loan is the ridiculous thing I ever heard. Picture this, you graduate and you get a good job but now you have this husband.

    I married at 19 in 1985 under a lot of pressure with student advisors and my family. Four months into the marriage, hubby started acting wierd and things went from bad to worse. Not only did my grades suffer, but I wound up losing what little bit of cash I had set aside when the jerk wiped me out. Long story short, by the time all was said and done with restraining orders, court appearances, and legal fees I wound up paying a thousand times more than all that “public assistance” that I was promised.

    Be smart, get a second job and save the money. Look for a new job that offers tuition reimbursement. Worst case scenario, 2 years is nothing to wait until you are 21 and can do the FAFSA on your own terms.

    1. Try 24. I’m turning 24 this year (in a couple of days, actually), and I STILL had to be a “dependent” student, even though I live 2500 miles away from my parents, and have supported myself since I was 18. I understand why they don’t allow people to do this, but I think the age is way too high. If she’s already engaged, it might not be such a bad idea. But it depends entirely on her and her relationship.

  2. If she’s moved out of state, I’d say wait the year or whatever it is to gain residency, then get married (provided it’s not one of the youthful things detailed above) and go to community college. Then later transfer to uni. She’ll qualify for financial aid under independent status and the time in community college will allow her not only to make some decisions on what she wants to study, but also whether or not she’s really committed to performing in school, without costing thousands of dollars.

  3. Natasha should not get married right now. She should take as many classes at a community college as she can. Online classes are great if she has to work while in school. She should wait to be done with school before she goes and ties the knot. She needs to stand strong on her own feet fight this hard battle and at the end walk down the isle with the man she loves.

  4. Another Natasha here who was in a similar situation. I actually failed out of college my very first semester (got 1 C and 4 F’s). Likewise I was a very good student while in high school, took mostly AP classes and had a decent GPA. I was devastated when I got kicked out and thought my life was completely over. I decided to do a year of a government service program called Americorps*NCCC instead of going to a community college to raise my grades at first. I think that making the decision to do NCCC was the best thing I could possibly do. The program allowed me to travel around the country doing service work for 10 months (paying for all my expenses), I got a 5k education award at the end, and when I reapplied to schools I used the experience on my essays as a way of proving that I had learned how to be more responsible.

    I still ended up having to go to community college (where I got full grants!) because while other more expensive schools had (surprisingly) offered me scholarships it still wasn’t enough to cover the cost of school. I love my community college because I feel like I belong there (unlike my previous school) and I’m surrounded by other people who like me have to work really hard to pay for and succeed in school.

    So my suggestion is take a look at Americorps*NCCC (or other Americorps programs, they have some where you don’t have to travel the way I did) since you can get an education award for doing so, and it will help you reclaim some responsibility in the eyes of others. If that’s not an option a community college can probably also be very beneficial.

  5. I got married, and it didn’t help with my aid amounts versus my EFC (I, too, got no familial help). Just putting that out there. I’m still getting screwed!

    Marriage should only be entered into because you want to be married–not for any other reason, especially when you’re that young.

  6. NO! marry for love not scholarships… you always have the option of student loans and in the long run its worth it. You should take the time and find someone you love and want to marry and let it unfold and take the time to plan the wedding you want not rush into something just for school. Its not worth it, the marriage will not be a healthy one if that is why you’re marrying.

  7. Also just to add to my previous comment.
    My husband and I both enrolled in a private university for two years, I got pregnant and had our daughter after our first semester. It hasn’t been easy but its been wonderful. We have worked hard towards our studies and both worker 15-20 hours on campus. My husband has a 3.5 gpa and I have a 3.97. For my husband and I, and other friends of min getting married before or during college led to a lot less “drama” or distraction so they were able to focus on school. However it depends on maturity, if you are engaged because you are wanting to get married, not just be in a relational “status” then I would definitely recommend pushing up a wedding date if it will help with financial aid.

  8. Carol Nabanoba Musoke

    hello ,
    I believe people make some very bad choices. Am sure at the time that Natasha blew off her classes she did not realise how fortunate she was to have a scholarship to fund her education. I would suggest that she does not get married. I would suggest that she perharps start out with a small job which does not require too high a qualification. She could say help clean up in a cafe to raise some money or do something she’s good at to raise some money ,which would definately not be enough to fund her tuition fees but it would be a start and maybe she can get another chance at a scholarship.
    what would I do? I would do small scale gardening since i have always liked it but to start it off i would volunteer at a community garden just to help out and perharps i would meet people who could help me find places i can garden for some extra cash. I would do this to get money to start running my own business and in time i would save up for tuition because after all it would be my fault i actually lost the scholarship.I believe for me to get a second chance at it i would have to prove that this time i am serious and i realise what it means to be priviledged for not many fortunate people do.

  9. Heck no she shouldn’t get married just for the financial aid. Marraige is a union that is meant for people who actually are in love, not people looking to get money. If Natasha actually loves the guy and she could see herself marrying him then that is fine. She SHOULD NOT, however, marry the man just to receive financial aid because that would be really idiotic! She needs to just try to fins herself another scholarship, or save up some money herself.

  10. The local community college is the BEST option here… by a long shot.
    Some that say Natasha should try to see if there [are] any online schools with a profession she is interested in… must not understand that she is financially strapped and does not need a lot of wasteful student loan debt.
    Regarding the ridiculously overpriced online schools please see this advice from our fearless leader:
    “Judge Josh” Barsch 1) Go to a restaurant. Order whatever you want. Seriously, appetizers, booze, main course, dessert, the whole nine. Eat it. It?s delicious. And no one?s even asked you for any money yet! Oh wait, then at the end of the big party, the waitress hands you a tab for $77, before tip.”
    analogy concerning student loans.
    I also agree with the advice offered by “Another” Natasha/May 24, 2010 at 12:24 pm
    concerning community college. GO to Community College if at all possible.
    There you can increase you GPA and chances for future scholarships per another one of “Judge Josh’s” gems from the past….
    Also, maybe enough time will pass in Community College that the age will increase to change the FAFSA independence from family contribution. Which, as in a good chess move, will kill a second bird with the same stone; the added time to take the CC classes of 3 years to age 21 instead of doing it in 2, will allow for more study time, hence better grades.
    Just my thoughts on the matter if Natasha wishes to find herself sitting pretty on her 21st birthday…NOT married, financially independent, loan free, scholarship eligible, 3.8 G.P.A., and …..
    Good luck Natasha(s)

  11. My husband and I got engaged in July of ’06 and were planning on getting married May ’07. We were moving to TN a few months after that and were going to attend college. However we realized our EFC would be lower and financial aid higher if we got married before we filed the FAFSA. So we ended up getting married November ’07. So while I would not recommend getting married just for financial aid I would say if you are engaged and it would help your school situation why not think about pushing up your wedding date?

  12. I don’t know… FAFSA is so faulty!
    My friend’s dad earns 100 G annually and her mom works at a supermarket just to find something to do. She is a dependent– her parents pay for all her expenses.
    Now, because her dad doesn’t live in the US, on tax returns they report themselves as single parent family with minimum income, and get a lot of financial aid. I thought that is grossly unfair, even though I have a scholarship that also pays for everything????

  13. As a student with a small child and a partner that I *can’t* marry due to the convoluted rules for married students, that would *NOT* be my first piece of advice, especially if the hubby-to-be is significantly older, and his loans come due just as N is a junior/senior. It might make her independent of her parents, but all of a sudden, they are reliant on each other, and their finances are calculated together. So he graduates, gets a decent paying job and all of a sudden, that is calculated against *her* aid. But they have to pay back *his* loans… I think you can see where this could be a problem.

    On the other hand, some schools have forms and ways to declare yourself independent. If you can prove that you have supported yourself for a full year and that you filed taxes on your own, and that your parents have *not* claimed you on theirs, your chances go up that the FA office will be able to work with you.

  14. Try taking as many CC classes as you can, Natasha…don’t worry about getting married just yet. Yes, you’ll qualify as an independent student if you do, but if you’re not absolutely, absolutely sure about getting married NOW– at age 19– then getting married to increase your fin aid package seems a little hasty.

    It may seem cliche, but no matter how many loans you are taking out after school, remember you are making an investment in yourself and your future!

  15. I would definitely not get married if I were her! She sounds very immature for her age, and would probably end up divorced. Divorce is one of the most stressful times in a persons life, and if she were still in college, she could have another F or two in her semester and her GPA would be worth “crap”.

    At the same time she could do what a financial aid person at my last school told me (off the record), have a baby. Yep, she said I wouldn’t get any aid unless I had a dependent or two. Great advice huh?

  16. It seems everyone is anti the marriage idea, but really it depends on the relationship. My husband and I went through the same thing for years, literally. We could have gotten more aid and really made life a lot easier for ourselves by getting married early, as we knew we were going to anyway, but I was way too proud to have it appear to everyone else as being for financial aid purposes. Seven years later, we’re still together, finally married, and getting better EFCs in grad school than we were in undergrad! You just have to HONESTLY look at your relationship and see if Josh’s advice applies to you. And the obvious disclaimer is, if you’re having doubts, don’t get married for the financial aid! Oh also I think there may be an option to have your parents legally deny that you’re anything to do with them? Not sure on the details, but it may be worth it for the EFC number.

  17. Marriage is hard at the best of times. If you are getting married, then it will help your FAFSA, but don’t get married or even hurry your plans on marriage for any other reason than love. Really. It’s not corny, it’s the most important thing.

    I met my husband when I was 19, I got married in my mid-20’s. We dated and lived together for several years before we took the plunge and got ‘hitched’. You’re very young and you have so many options at this time. What about working and living overseas? What about joining the armed forces (you can stay closer to the US if you join the Coast Guard)? What about working for a few years and taking night classes at a community college? You might find that what you wanted to study isn’t what you though you’d study. What about a craft? Sell it on Etsy. Make money that way. Ebay? What about trying so many more things that are far less final than marriage?

    Don’t get married right now – wait a few years. Live with your fianc

  18. I’m actually in a similar situation. I got good grades in high school, but I decided to go the community college route to save money. While in community college I met my now husband. Before I transferred (to one of those very expensive UC’s) we decided to get married. Now we both thought about it for a while because we had really only been together for 10 months, but a year later we’re doing just fine.
    If the two of them truly care about each other, and if they’re both serious about getting married then why shouldn’t they? Sure they need to take into account that people change, goals change and circumstances change, but that’s not to say marriage is a mistake right off the bat.
    If your happy together, get married and go to school. The financial aid will help both of them in the future.

  19. I graduated from UC Berkeley and getting married for financial aid was very common- I would say one out of every 10 or so had done it. Most, if not all, were not romantically involved at all. My old roommate would see her “husband” and HIS girlfriend once a year at his birthday party. This is a good move if you’re decent friends (meaning they won’t try to make a grab for your mola) and agree to file a divorce after college before you make any $$.
    I grew up in California so I was already a resident when I went to school. That said, when I became independent it made a HUGE difference. Of course, I had very little income outside of work study which also helped because work study money does not count toward taxable income, so my EFC was 0. All in all, when I was dependent I had about $3,000 left over after paying tuition, but when I became independent I had around $7,000 after paying tuition. I was able to pay my semester’s room and board in advance and had a nice pillow of cash to rely on for the rest of the semester.

    I think that getting married for financial aid is a great move economic-wise. Of course, it may not be a good move romance-wise if you are not ready for it. For this reason it may even be a better idea to marry one of your friends who is in a similar situation (STRICTLY ON PAPER) instead of your fiance if he is ok with it to keep the “marriage” strictly about financial aid, as this would greatly simplify your life.

  20. call me a romantic, but nobody should have to get married for any other reason than they’re in love; don’t get married for money, that’s a horrible idea.

  21. Im 25 years old and all I have to say is please don’t get married out of convenience, so what if you incur a little debt over the next year or so just remember your education is important and you are important. Make sure that you are living your dreams before you decide to include someone else in them. I am only saying this because it was not to long ago when I was in your situation, finances are important but there is something else much more important.

    I went to a CC for my first few years till I was able to transfer out to a state college. My experience was the best and the least expensive thing I could have ever done. Then I had the opportunity to study abroad for a year in Spain, I figured I only have this one life to live and as they say tomorrow is not promised so I decided this is what was best for me. Good luck!

  22. As a married parent, I know that I have been excluded from many scholarships because of my marital status – Although Natasha has not had children yet, marriage tends to move up plans for babies (whether intentional or not). Most scholarships out there for parents are for single parents, and income is almost always a big deciding factor for the few remaining ones for married parents. We don’t make a lot of money (certainly not enough to pay for daycare for three children and support our family while I’m in school) but we make more than the average early-20s parent I am competing against. My husband’s income has been held against me numerous times while applying for scholarships and despite having a 3.8, I have yet to win any at all.

    I also agree that young marriage can be tied to higher odds of divorce – becoming independent of one’s parents *can* help for getting loans but the big bill of a wedding will certainly set you back, even if it is intended to be a *small* wedding (our *small* wedding cost $10,000)

  23. Arthur Weatherwax

    I think that they should go about and get married. Later they will learn that it was a mistake. School is more important then marraige or relationships.

  24. Gettting married when you are rebuilding your life is not a good idea. When you want to pick yourself up the motivation should be intrinsic. Blowing off classes also could be a sign of bi-polar disorder. Marriage is a job and getting a job while trying to go to school is not a good idea especially if you already have one. Natasha should try to see if there is any online schools with a profession that she is interested in. They usually do not require a minimum GPA and she can start fresh and work on herself. For many, marriage is a link to divorce, so the question is should she have a possible divorce looming over her head while she tries to excel in school.

  25. If you can find a job in the feild or working around the feild that you want to be in, then you can create connections with your employers. Get to know them and be up front with your ambitions and dreams. Show them that your reliable and willing to work and in time they may pay for your tuition. I know a kid who wants to work with autistic kids and he volunteers at a home and they’ve told him that if he wants a job there he’ll get one so long as he works towards his degree and they’re paying for his tuition. He’s also got a job that dozens of other college students would kill to have yet he’s still in high School taking classes at a community college.

  26. It would actually b a good idea to push up the wedding date. Given the fact that she is already engaged anyway….and if he is paying back student loans, that counts on his taxes which makes her efc even lower. I read one comment which said she should just wait until she is 21. However, some people do not realize that you are not considered an independent student until you are 24, have a child, or are married. I am 24 and I already have 20G’s worth of debt because of loans ( one full year of college). I say anything that can help keep you debt free is good (as long as it is within reason)

  27. I don’t recommend getting married for convenience sake. However, as we filled out the FAFSA for my son and daughter years ago, I realized the loophole of getting out under the thumb of “dependency” was marriage and/or divorce. How crazy is that?
    Before you take any CC classes make sure to check out the requirements for establishing in-state residency, as some do not allow you to take any schooling for a year. There is no guarantee you’ll even get granted residency either, so keep working and saving as much as you can. Maybe your Dad’s financial situation will be better and he’ll be able to help you on the side. Good luck 🙂

  28. As a 20 year old about to enter my thesis year at a private school who got married at the end of 2008, I can see both sides of this argument. I think it really depends on the situation– my husband (who is in the Army) and I were already intending on getting married once I graduated from college, but we realized that we would be in better shape if we got married sooner. In our particular instance, the lower EFC combined with his tax-free combat pay would allow us to be more financially stable once I graduated and he got out of the Army and could then go to school.

    Even so, we had to think about it long and hard, because we knew being married was a big commitment to make. I was pretty hesitant for a long time, even with the financial benefits. One of the reasons I decided to go for it was that he’d be deployed for a year– trying to see the silver lining of a not-so-wonderful situation, I realised I’d have a year to be on my own, in a sense, and learn to take care of our household. To grow up more as an individual. I can’t emphasize enough for people my age who are thinking of getting married– in my opinion, you seriously need to have the time to start figuring out who you are outside the relationship, otherwise you’re basically coming into the marriage as a sixteen-year old with no proper identity of your own 😛

    Also, I know from experience that it’s also quite stressful to plan a wedding when you’re a student. And whether you’re dealing with a deployed spouse or not, marriage is a huge, huge adjustment to make. If Natasha and her fiance are truly not thinking of getting married for another few years, it would be rash to move up the date, in my opinion. I know personally it had often been overwhelming to learn how to run a household when I’d barely just learned how to take care of myself, and deal with full-time school on top of that…

    Yes, it eased a good deal of the financial burden, but you can just as easily end up making yourself an equally-difficult emotional burden– seriously, think about if it’s the right thing for the relationship. As others have mentioned, there are plenty of other options. And there’s nothing wrong with taking a year or two to work and then deciding. Work hard and opportunities will open up 🙂

    Wish you luck, Natasha!

  29. I think if they already are engaged, then go for it. I think that people who want to wait, and wait, until EVERYTHING in life is all set to take the relationship to the next level are wishful thinking… Life is what happens when your busy making plans…

    Hopefully it works, if not, at least you tried. I concentrated on school and career, thinking I would have it all in place first, and now I am “there” and looking around, to find no one there to share it. The point is that life is all one big balancing act. If you are in love, and already engaged, meaning you have ALREADY decided to get married (for the right reasons), then in that case the date should take all life factors into consideration. You are sharing your lives, not your weekends. So if overall it makes sense to change your status so that you both can relieve some financial stress (which would strain said relationship), then good. Of course, if the idea of being married this year is scarier than next year, you should probably just be dating anyway, that’s telling you something your just not wanting to admit.

  30. Look I losted my scholoarship and it’s a real pain to ask my parents to fill out the paper work for me so I’ve been slowly paying for all my classes, luckly I only have four more classes left to get my AA but I thought about getting married to my boyfriend for the benefits but honestly it was not a good idea in the first place I have ended up paying for everything he has done in the last year and a half and have wasted more of my time on him than if I’d just lived on my own and starved to get though school. So to put it plain and simple Don’t get married just to finshish school am sure if you apply for more scholorships and sign up for a ton of grants that you’ll find the money to go, Good Luck and remeber advice is free.

  31. If you’re under 24 and unmarried, as far as financial aid for school goes….you’re s**t out of luck. Single motherhood does not automatically qualify you for free school money either. Believe me, I know. I ran into hard times, lost my job and my daughter and I had to move in with my father and his family. By FAFSA’s standards he should be able to pay for me to go to college. A household income of $60,000 isn’t a lot when there are 7 people living in the household. Those kinds of things should be taken into consideration.

  32. First of all don’t get married for the wrong reasons. Its hard enough being young and in college trying to get a career together. Why add on more stress by planning and paying for a wedding. There are plenty of scholarships out there that do not go off of GPA so you should start there. There is a way but getting married just to solve financial problems is not the answer in fact it could create more.

  33. I normally don’t leave a comment, but since we’re debating marriage, I’ll add my two cents.

    I got married at 18, about two weeks after I started college. We got married because it’s cheaper to be married (there are all sorts of discounts for being married). It didn’t change anything about our relationship; it didn’t change anything about how we felt about each other. If getting married now instead of later is going to be a major change in your relationship (emotionally) than don’t do it. Don’t rush into something you’re not prepared for. Sometimes those extra years of being engaged can prepare you to be committed to your fiance for the rest of your life (hopefully).

    You should also think quite carefully about being married and in college. The only reason I finished college (I graduated on Sunday) was because of my husband. My parents refused to support me financially or emotionally; my husband was there for me all the way. Is your fiance the kind of person who can put up with your priorities being elsewhere for the next four years, especially during finals weeks? Or will he be frustrated that your attention is elsewhere, or that you’re spending too much time studying and not enough time working (either around the house or at a job)?

    Also keep children in mind. My husband and I made the decision early not to have children until I am completely done with school (and that includes grad school) and am secure in a job. While it is possible to have children and go to college, children force your attention away from school. If you keep failing classes, you cannot have your attention divided.

    I must point out though, getting married does not have to be expensive. All you need to do is sign the papers. Bring the people as witnesses that you just can’t be married without and throw a big party later for all the people you actually want to invite. (My husband and I threw a big party on our third anniversary. It was like a wedding/renewal of vows ceremony.)

    In the end, getting married is up to you. If your husband is going to distract you from school, or if getting married will move up your plans for children, I would say don’t do it. If your fiance is fully supportive of you getting your degree, if your relationship is not being rushed forward, and it is financially responsible to marry him (i.e. if marrying him will actually help the EFC, not hurt it) then go for it.

  34. I see it’s already been clarified a couple times, but I want to clarify again that you have to be 24, not 21, before FAFSA considers you fully independent of your parents. Every year was hell for me trying to get my mom to give me her tax information. Not only was she not spending a dime for my education, she refused to keep her tax info in order for my FAFSA, since she didn’t file taxes and it didn’t affect her. I tried repeatedly to explain to her that simply holding on to a piece of paper for me would allow me to get thousands of dollars, but to no avail. I have been told at multiple schools that the one and only way to be exempt from this rule is if you became legally emancipated BEFORE you turned 18. I realize that parents would never pay for school if their kids could just claim independence and get financial aid, but seriously this rule actually allows parents to stop their grown children from going to college, just by withholding tax information. It’s screwed up.

    Anyway, go to community college for the first year or two years. Take a liberal arts major and either take care of most of your gen ed requirements at university, or in two years you can even get an associates degree, which sometimes exempts you from gen ed requirements (even if you didn’t take every required class) and goes a long way towards making up for mistakes you made earlier in your education. This will also give you time to think about your university major.

  35. Jen:

    Just so you know, you’re not independent at 21. You have to be 24. Two years isn’t bad at all, but… five years?

    (I’m 23. It sucks because even though my parents are both unemployed and have a massive amount of debt, I don’t qualify for any financial aid. And I won’t qualify as “independent” until I’m a month shy of my 25th birthday.)

  36. Kimberly Reddy

    I believe Natasha should only get married if she is in love with the person she is getting married to. Getting married just for the scholarship is a no-no. If she is fortunate then she will love the person she is marrying in the intention of getting a scholarship.

  37. Unfortunately, in response to Jen’s response, you mush be 24 to be an independent on the FAFSA, not 21. I’d recommend checking with the financial aid office at the school in which you plan to enroll. Typically there is a process you can go through that considers difficult financial situations such as you described regarding your brother’s medical expenses. At my school it’s called “Special Circumstances” and it overrides last year’s financial information that you originally put onto the FAFSA to generate, hopefully, a lower expected family contribution based on the current year’s expected finances, which can get you more aid, generally. Hope this helps!

  38. I would not suggest getting married at 19. You could take a few years off to have some fun, until you turn 21. Save some money, and just wait it out until college is cheaper (ie you turn 21 and are still broke). I did this and it worked for me.

    I would suggest also that you continue to take community college classes as your work schedule allows. Improve your GPA.

    Get some roomates to live cheaply, it isn’t forever! Travel around the country, try different jobs (look for jobs that cater to students). Try different classes. Take your time “growing up”. Don’t be too responsible to someone else, too soon.

    For HEAVENS SAKE don’t get married at 19. You and your sweetheart are WAY too young. What if you get a high paying job and he never does? Will the marriage survive? I would say… wait to get serious about marriage until you are much older, your schooling is completely finished, and you have a serious job that can support you financially with no headaches.

  39. How darn you tell her to get married!!! It debilitates women, not helps them in the eyes of a college! I’m sorry but that is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!!!

  40. Dont get married for financial aid reasons! It screws your chances even more! I know, I am married! Unless neither of you works or maybe just one of you works. But they consider your income as one and not 2. In which case you have to make even less money as a couple than someone who is an individual on low income. For instance, if you are single, say you need to earn less than 15,000 a year to be conisdered for help, well as a married couple that number is 20,000, NOT 30,000. So to support two people you need to make a lot less money.



  42. Chelsea McDowell

    This is so funny because I JUST did this. My boyfriend and I had been together for five years and were planning on doing a wedding/marriage once I got my undergrad out of the way! Well, I was so low on money, my mother could not afford to keep paying tuition, and I missed hope by three hours. So, we got hitched at the local court house and it was silly and romantic– I loved it! Now I have some help from the Pell Grant AND since our families insisted we are now planning a beautiful, real wedding!

  43. I’m in a slightly different situation, then Natasha. I was home schooled for high school and because of family issues I got a job and paid for dual enrollment during the second semester of my senior year of high school. I got out of high school with a 3.9. When I applied to colleges I got scholarships, but not enough(usually about half of tuition) and because of my parent’s EFC, I was not eligible for Pell grants. My father makes only a few thousand dollars more than the limit for Pell grants. I ended up going to the cheapest of the schools I had applied to because of the price and because I could live at home, thus not paying for a dorm room. During my first semester I worked two jobs to pay for tuition and I made a 4.0 gpa.

    My boyfriend has all of his college education covered by Pell grants because of his parent’s EFC. My boyfriend did not have a very good gpa when he graduated high school and during his first semester of college, he was not worried about making the best grades possible, only about passing.

    I don’t resent him for having college paid for, but I am a bit envious. While I was working two jobs just to pay for half of what my family was expected to pay in tuition, my boyfriend was able to simply focus on just attending class. I am in a pre-med program, so working two jobs on top of that is difficult.

    My boyfriend and I have discussed how much easier it would be for me to go to school, if we were married because I would get Pell grants and we do plan to get married in the future, just not until we can afford to live independent of our families.

    I have decided that although I would love to not work two jobs, it is best that my boyfriend and I not get married sooner simply because I need funds for school.
    I am not traditional at all( I hold the door for my boyfriend and won’t let him hold it for me), but I think that you should not rush into marriage for anything, but love.

  44. She should keep going to school its her future. Judge Josh will always be there and respect her education!

  45. Natasha:

    The wisest venture to take is community college. I, myself, am 19 years old. Prior to starting college I was unable to attend a university because of the cost and I moved from Michigan to Florida which boosted my tuition costs. Like you, I desire to have the least amount of debt as possible from attending college. I made the hard, but wise, decision to work for the amount of time needed to establish Florida residency. Now, I attend community college which is extremely affordable as well as a donor scholarship I was chosen for. I say to establish residency first. While you are, work and save money to help with school. I recommend a community college because they are extremely financial friendly and ask if there are any donor scholarships or other kind of scholarships available. You sound like an intelligent girl so you should do well in community college. I believe that by the time your first semester arrives you should know if you want to marry your husband or not. God Bless!

  46. Natasha,
    I agree wholeheartedly about the community college part, alot of people need to realize the advantage of that. The first two years are typically general education courses don’t pay an arm and a leg for something you can pay a couple of finger nails before :). Secondly work your tail off to get your grades up and maintain them, strive for a 4.0 every semester, term or quarter and although you ‘messed up’ one scholarship do not give up applying. Register on any legit scholarship website that you can find…. fastweb, sallie mae has one as well etc they send you notification of scholarships that you may qualify for. Do not sell yourself short and above all do not give up, anything worth truly having is worth struggling and working hard for. Good Luck Natasha!!!!

  47. I wouldn’t get married for it either. It seems like a weird reason, and I’d personally rather eat the loans (which is what I’m doing now)

    Just to note, as a 23-yearold, it is Not a mere two years for her to reach independent status. My FAFSA account still counts me as a dependent on my family and I’m also part of that 90% not receiving the EFC. I was told by our financial aid office that the age is 24, –or roughly after your B.A. is completed.

    I’d say community college, and work for a year to get residency while you Don’t have the loans to pay off if you break from school. You could also go part time Community College while you work, it’s be an easy way to rake in the As for your first post high school year, and than transfer later after you are considered a resident.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about a name brand school while your getting your undergrad. Just my two cents.

  48. natasha… is understandable that you want a better future and a good education, but don’t get married just for financial aid… You are just too young to choose to get marry for these reasons…. besides looking for an education you also need to be 19, and feel and enjoy your youth plenty…. I got offered to get married to for these reasons, to a marine and i even got promise a house and everything that you couldn’t imagine when i was 17, but i chose to stay single and happy… yes i had to worked twice to pay off my school on my own, but I am free… I don’t regret it at all…

  49. no dont get married…instead pop out about 4 kids! Your school will be paid for in full. Plus, you wont have to worry about the kids because the government will pay for their living and daycare.

    1. In response to the last “Anonymous” comment on here: Yeah, and for that reason, our country is in millions of dollars of debt families across the nation are broken and living on the bare minimum, and children are growing up in less than acceptable situations to grow up in… Sounds like a great idea. *Hint: that last sentence was sarcasm.*

      Marry if you -personally- think you are ready. I married at 19 and was ready for for that type of commitment. Some people are not ready for marriage at that age, which is just fine. If you are serious about getting married, don’t let other people’s opinions push you from it, and don’t let financial aid be the only reason pushing you towards it. But, it is a nice benefit I’m looking forward to in the upcoming year, on top of that, being married is a blast! (:

      Best of luck to you!

  50. No! While she may have a great guy, if she does right now, that is not an option to just up and marry someone. Most schools will let you appeal and get your scholarship back with a probational period.

  51. Natasha-

    After trying to secure financial aid this past year, I have learned that school Financial Aid offices have the ability to review the EFC and manually change it in thier system. Also, some can take into account unusually large medical expenses (not insurance premiums). If you attempt to gain financial aid while still a dependent, these are things to explore (especially with your brother’s hospital stay).

    I hope it goes well, whatever you decide!

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