Can You Get More Financial Aid If You’re In Debt?

Hi, everybody. As you probably know, this site started out as a site about scholarships and how to get them, but has slowly morphed into an advice site about all things related to college, money, jobs, and occasionally even bigger issues like what you should do with your life and how to be happy.

I’m cool with all of that, and let me thank you once again (because I don’t do it enough) for entrusting me with these important questions you have, many of which will determine the direction of your life. I promise to keep giving you the best advice I’ve got, whatever it is you’d like to know about.

Why do opera singers always have beards?

And on the subject of our ever-expanding topics, I’m getting more and more questions recently about the financial aid process itself — FAFSAs, EFCs, awards, financial aid offices, strategies, etc. I’m learning FAST that this is one of the most, if not THE most, critical issue on your minds.

You’re in luck, because I have a fair bit of experience with the financial aid system, and not just as a student. When I started my Google Adwords agency back in 2001, things were going so poorly and I was so broke that I had to donate plasma twice a week just to keep my house out of foreclosure. To make ends meet, I took a job as a call-center rep for FAFSA, and was trained by the government on the ins and outs of the financial aid system (so that I could intelligently answer the frustrated calls of folks like you/your parents).

Later on, after business picked up for me and I quit that job, I co-owned a FAFSA service that completed many thousands of financial aid apps for students. ANYWAY — my point is, please feel free to fire away with any financial aid questions you have. I’ll get them answered. And to that end, today we have Debbie:

Dear Mr. Barsch,

I admire your frank communication with the students and I’m hoping you’ll be able to guide me out of my dilemma.

I’ll do my best!

A few years ago my husband was laid off from his job, during the time he was out of work, we ended up using all of our resources (IRA’s, savings, etc) and went into debt to keep from losing our house. Our daughter is an opera major at UC Irvine and loves school, her friends and her life. Even though my husband is back to work and I am working full time, our combined salaries tell FAFSA that we earn too much to get any scholarships or grants.

First of all, congrats to you for pulling through those difficult times without losing your house or having to pull your daughter out of school. The headlines, unfortunately, will always belong to those who DID lose their houses and everything else during this time, but I know sometimes it must feel like cold comfort when you’re now having to start over from square one with savings and fallback money.

The UC system is raising their tuition this coming year plus she’s going to have to pay extra for voice lessons and housing is $850/month! not including food.

That doesn’t surprise me, unfortunately. If the predicament itself wasn’t enough, Debbie’s also a victim of California’s epic budget deficits, where the state is pinching everyone they can, everywhere they can, just to stop bleeding money.

I’m afraid our debt that we’ll be paying for is going to take about 20 to 30 years to pay off plus our son is going to go to college in another 3 years.

I don’t know how much the debt adds up to or how much you and your husband make or what your lifestyle expenses are like, but I’d be lying if I said I disagreed with you. I could (and probably will, soon) make a blog post on a collection of ways to save, say, $5,000 per year (and then put that $5k toward your existing debt). But otherwise, yeah, that’s definitely a possibility.

If there’s any upside to the above, it’s that the feds will expect less money out of you when you have multiple kids in college and reduce your EFC.

My question is, is there any way at all of getting our debt information into FAFSA to change their final financial decision?

Unfortunately there’s not. The government does not count consumer debt against your assets when determining your EFC. They just count the assets. Now, you can help yourself out by taking whatever cash and savings you have and paying down your debt with it — that way, the assets aren’t there anymore and the government can’t count them against you. However, a) it sounds like you may not have recovered much of your savings just yet, and b) that’s always a risky proposition anyway, especially if you’re paying down cards or lines of credit that have since been closed out by the lender (since any cash you put toward them now isn’t offset by an opening/easing of a credit line for life’s next emergency).

My daughter is extremely talented, she’s a favorite of her teachers and her grades are getting the attention of Rhodes and Fullbright for her masters.


Well, that brings up another point that I’m sure you’ve heard others say, and I’d be screwing you over if I didn’t at least make mention of it myself. Your daughter is an adult now, and situations like this are why God created the unsubsidized student loan. 🙂

I know you want to help her, and when my daughter is that age (she’s only 6 now), I’m probably gonna need someone sitting in my current chair telling me the same thing I’m telling you. But you’ve gotta avoid the temptation to throw yourself under the bus financially when there’s another solution tailor-made for this, and that’s the usage of student loans.

Yeah, she’s probably a broke college student, and she probably won’t make millions the minute she steps out of college with an opera degree. But she’s got the power of time on her side. She’s 20-some years younger than you with a lot fewer needs and responsibilities. She’ll be able to hack the payments over time even better than you will, possibly. (Of course, let’s hope she wins a Rhodes or Fulbright gig and this becomes a non-issue).

Plus, like you said earlier, if things go south financially again during the next few years, you don’t want to be stretched so thin that you can’t help your son out at all, even in an emergency or something like that.

That’s my best advice for the day. What about you — what do you think Debbie should do? Let us know in the comments below. Oh, and if you haven’t already, please fan/like me on Facebook if you’re so inclined. I’m sick of getting my butt kicked

29 thoughts on “Can You Get More Financial Aid If You’re In Debt?”

  1. I am going to college now and I am an old lady ( well I am where most college students are concerned) and recently I lost my job. I am on unemployment and recently was sent a letter from the Unemployment commission concerning pell grants. I noticed there was no place to include this letter from the government in the FAFSA application, nor was there anywhere to show the reduction of employment. The FAFSA just wants the 2009 Taxes to go by. Really this is not good because My income now is much different than it was in 2009. I lost $25,000 a year. For some that may not seem like a lot, but for me that is a tremendous amount. I sent that letter to the school. And of course have heard nothing back from my financial aid officer. Perhaps a change in circumtances is something I need to look into. Good Idea. But, seems like FAFSA should have something or somewhere that a person could enter that information also! I also do not think it is right for the Government to use a parents income for a student just because they are under 24 years old. I do not support my sons at all, and they can’t get any help even though they only get paid $8 and $10an hour and shupport themselves because they have to include us on their FAFSA. Really stinks for them! Funding for college is a nightmare for all except the rich and famous.

  2. Let the daughter share the load. I know plenty of kids get a free ride through school, but there is nothing wrong with kids learning responsibility before they graduate. I am in grad school and didn’t get here by depending on my parents.

  3. June 2, 2010


    I sincerly wished that an audit in colleges, relating to credit transfer of the same classes be done, nation wide.

    I have transferred from one college to another, a couple of times, and colleges want you to repeat a class, that you already have taken, at another college.

    In my opinion, that is another issue, and another reason why so much of financial resources are misused.



  4. Debbie’s daughter may, realistically, have to look at receiving student loans. Considering that her parents’ situation will not change any time soon, there may be no other option. I would suggest that she begin looking into private and public loan companies and start comparing interest rates, payment plans, etc. Also, you could try applying for scholarships that can be used for any major. There is a possibility of winning one of those, even if it is small.

  5. Unfortunately, I kinda agree with you, Judge Josh. I think the best way to go is for your daughter, Debbie, to take out a student job or work a bit part-time. It sucks to get into that debt, but if you have another son that also needs help with tuition, it’s going to kill in the long run to keep digging into your OWN debt. Sit down with your daughter, explain the situation, and teach her how to manage her own savings and student loans. I’m sure she’ll understand, and learn something too 🙂

  6. I have many friends who are music majors (use to be one myself), particularly in Opera – and it takes a lot of work and self-discipline. On top of the academic work, lessons, rehearsals and performances, they spend countless hours studying theory, piano and of course practicing their main instrument/voice. Because of this, it’s understandable why she can’t just pick up and have a full-time job to cover her own expenses, but a part-time one to cover fun-money, food, and savings would be good!

    Maybe I just missed it in the reading, but does Debbie’s daughter know that her parents are struggling financially? If not, this may be a time to let her know, especially to try and help her from getting into debt in the future, and to encourage her to work for herself.

    I also think Debbie and her daughter should get together and write out a complete budget (if they have not already done so) to see where they could save. It sounds like not going to UC Irvine isn’t an option, and she’s really happy there (which is great!), so for tuition, she’s stuck. For housing, I know Irvine is in a bit of an expensive area anyways (heck, all of southern California is), but $850 a month?? Is that with a roommate? If there’s an apartment out there for roughly $900-$1,000, she could maybe save a few hundred a month by splitting the bills with one other person, or other people. Does she have a car? If so, maybe sell it. If that’s too extreme, save the car for only long trips and walk/bicycle/commute when she can. Examine her/your spending. Are there luxuries you can cut to save you both in the longrun?

    She should also look into direct subsidized/unsubsidized student loans. Yes, it is a lot of money to pay back, but doing so will teach her daughter responsibility of how much to borrow and how much she’ll pay back over time. She also has more time to figure out how she’ll pay those back, which will give her parents a break for now.

    And of course, apply for any/all scholarships possible! Ones from the known websites like fastweb and finaid, as well as the ones directly through the school (I applied for some outside of my major, even, and won nearly $2,000! Woo hoo!).

    Just explore allllll options!

  7. Debbie,
    We are going through the same thing here! My daughter is in a NJ University, and works full time while attending school full time to help with her books, supplies, food and spending money, and to save for graduate school. My husband and I were BOTH laid off just as she got into college and have gone through all our savings and now are living on our IRA investment accounts which are quickly dwindling away.

    Maybe the government won’t help you, but you can try to get aid from the school itself. Send the financial aid department a letter explaining your circumstances. Ask them not to consider your home as an asset (one of the ways that they can get around the numbers to help those of us in bad situations.) Tell them the reason is that your credit cards and loans use your home as collateral and you currently owe more than you can pay off, so it would be a hardship, or even impossible to use your home to acquire money to pay for school.) My daughter was given a $10,000 a year grant because we did this.

    Hope it helps you!

  8. I’m an undergraduate in college and I think you should definitely have your daughter take out student loans- I’m actually surprised you hadn’t thought to do this already. Most of my friends had to take out private loans to pay for all or part of their tuition and living expenses. Personally, my parents are unable to pay for my education and I’ve taken out government and private loans, as well as worked part time to pay for schooling. If it’s really important to your daughter to remain in school, she’ll want to make sure she’s able to continue, which may be through loans.

  9. I commend the parents for wanting to keep their children free of the burden of college loan debt as I never had that option throughout my undergraduate and master’s degree. My girlfriend had her first car and undergraduate degree paid for. She only had to take on student loans for her M.A. The difference in our debt levels is astounding. In fact, she would not be able to teach preschool, even though she is being paid higher than most, if her parents hadn’t taken most of the burden of debt away.

    With that said, you have paid for the crucial portions of your daughter’s life and she should carry the weight of those loans from now on. You have a second child to dedicate funds to soon and you will likely need the downtime between now and when he starts college to build up some more funds for his future.

  10. Dear Students,
    I’m here to share the good news regarding the funding of your schoolin’ in U.S.A. If you study the FAFSA closely, you can find some major loopholes that will help you finance that much-needed education (and at little-to-no cost to America!).

    Loophole 1: Join the military. This is a great way to earn cash for college (and lots of it, if you play your cards right). Of course, there is the drawback of potentially being sent overseas to be blown to smithereens by some a-hole terrorist. If this doesn’t quite sit right with you, you can sign up for the National Guard (we call them Nasty Girls) for a bit less college money, and with the slightly less-horrific potential of being blown to smithereens in the comfort of your own country.

    Loophole 2: Have a kid. If there’s any way to convince us (the government) you need money it is by having a kid. Not only does this help you out a lot FAFSA-wise, but it is good insurance that you’re genetic line will survive; and if you’re lucky, your kid will either join the military or land a scholarship to go to college when she is 18 so you won’t have to worry about this “price of college” thing ever again.

    Loophole 3: Get married. While we don’t encourage marriage for those enlisted in the military (too much baggage), we strongly encourage civilians to do so and we award this behavior with some nice FAFSA hookups. Please note: We aid married individuals out of the goodness of our hearts, and not because marriage is the cornerstone of the U.S. economy. Just remember: something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue.

    I hope this helps ease the concerns of students looking to fund their way through school without having to sign their lives away to loans to banks to do so. The superior alternatives of signing your life away to the military, a kid, or a spouse proves to us that you’re worthy of a nice financial aid package, and ultimately results in your only having to take out a few extra bank loans in order to make ends meet in your new and exciting life circumstances.

    Your Friend,
    Uncle Sam

  11. We were in a similar situation. My husband was a “high income earner”, but had his income cut in half last year. Glad he still has a job, but the cut still hurts when you have two in college and two more in high school to replace them soon. Even at our lower income, our two college kids did not qualify for FAFSA grants, scholarships, or subsidized loans. The kids did borrow some unsubsidized fed loans in their names, but we still had unmet costs. However, like samsmom, we contacted their schools directly and explained situation. Both schools were able to come up with some additional low interest loans for our girls. Schools will look at hardships such as a dramatic drop in income, student loan payments parents are already making (for their kids and on their own loans), and other things that FAFSA doesn’t take into account.

  12. I’m in a very similar situation. The only difference is that I have three older brothers in college as well. We’ve cut expenses everywhere… but the outlook is still a dreary one.

  13. The daughter really needs to get a job and take out loans. Additionally, she and her parents need to sort through her expenditures to find out what can be eliminated (i.e., cable tv, at-home internet, car, social interaction funds, etc). Then they need to eliminate those things.

    Also, if it’s a possibility, the daughter needs to move back home. If they live relatively close to campus, she should live there (and keep the car she might have). That’d save the $850/month. The daughter doesn’t need to live on campus if the parents are in the same city, and given the financial struggles of the family, she shouldn’t.

  14. I’m also an undergrad in my senior year at a state school. My dad lost his job about 7 months ago, so I understand scrambling for cash. I worked extra hours at every job I could get my hands on. I begged the financial aid office for aid reconsideration (although that was to no avail). I filled out scholarship application after scholarship application, and got a few hundred dollars, which did help. I cut waay back on spending, got a roommate to split my small one-bedroom loft and cut my expenses there.

    Can your daughter take general / core classes at a community college, perhaps? Also, seriously consider creating a written budget -for both you and for her- and have every dollar accounted for on paper before the month begins, and stick to it.

    I am a firm believer in avoiding loans and debt if at all possible, because no one wants a student loan that sticks around so long that it might as well be a pet. However, if it comes down to more debt for you or debt for your daughter, -you- are the ones with retirement to think of, as well as education for your son. She can shoulder a bit of debt (think minimal, though! she -is- a voice major) where you don’t quite have that wiggle room.

    Best of luck through your tough times!

  15. Whether or not the government can help is not something i can tell you for sure but i know it can give you a loan that you don’t have to pay back until may be 6months or so after you graduate. You could try getting a job to inorder to keep up while you apply for a scholarship and let the school know about the change in your financial situation

  16. You can always try filing a change of circumstances through the school. I have a similar circumstance and the FASFA didn’t accurately reflect my parents’ finances so my school recommended filling a change of circumstances form. It’s worth a shot

  17. My favorite responses from above (because they bear repeating):

    -Community College

    She’s going to UCI? I’m going to a UC, and each unit is a few hundred dollars apiece! Moreover, the average class is 4 units. At my Community College it cost me ~$24 a unit, and each unit counts as 1.5 (I think) at a UC!

    -The Military

    Now, now, don’t freak just yet. There’s plenty of money in the Fed’s coffers, and lots of ways to get to it without getting 7.62 poisoning. Navy or Air Force Reserves is an option for your daughter, and your son might consider enlisting. Its a great way to learn responsibility, and the new post 9/11 GI bill is a full ride in of itself! But be forewarned, recruiters are used car salesmen!! Do your homework TWICE and come knowing what you will and wont accept. Don’t sign unless you get what you want.

    -Budget Better

    Ummm…duh! Buy her a crock pot, a frying pan, a sauce pan, a baking sheet, a spatula and a wooden spoon. Tell her you love her but she can never eat out on your dime ever again. Scour the internet for a new place to live, or move her home. Don’t give her cash, but rather gift cards to grocery stores, department stores, and other places where her dollar will stretch farther. Tell her you love her, but if you can’t afford to shop at Macys or Gelsons, then neither can she.

    -Give her the opportunity to be poor

    College is supposed to suck. Its the years when everybody is a cross between MacGuyver, Houdini, Einstein, Bluto (yes, the one and only) and Wolfgang Puck…sorta. All on a shoestring budget. And the less she has to work with, the more she’ll learn. If she can’t throw a birthday party with ten bucks, four packs of ramen, yellow cake mix, a stove, ONE frying pan, last week’s leftover warm beer, and the help of the internet – and all the while understand how these valuable life skills can be written into a resume – her college experience was wasted.

  18. unfortunately no debt is counted against your income and assets when it comes to the government. My parents have a lot of medical debt because I had cancer when I was younger and some of my treatment was very expensive and not covered by insurance at all. They couldn’t save for college at the same time. When I was in high school I was very active in the communtiy and got quite a few local scholarships, but now that I’m in college, it is proving very difficult to get scholarships.

  19. In regards to Marie and Momof4, I was in a very similar situation. Ask the financial aid office to do an individual budget appeal, submit proof that your income is lower than it was in 2009 and they will manually adjust your aid to your benefit. It is your right, so exercise it 🙂

  20. I am a student at a state school going into my Junior year and as much as my parents have supported me my entire life, and still provide for me as much as possible (which is a lot!) it was never expected that they would pay for my full education. I have about $5500 of student loans a year (some subsidized, most not) that I will be paying back when I graduate. My parents have supported me for 18 years, by the time I graduate at 22, it will be time I will have to be taking care of myself.

    Your daughter is growing up, its her turn to take care of this herself and work her way through the world, just like everyone else does. Especially when you have another child going into college in 3 years! He will need your help too!

    And frankly, “Uncle Sam’s” info above? Not helpful or applicable to most students. Get married? Have a kid!? What COLLEGE student wants that kind of ADDITIONAL financial/emotional burden on them?! And bartering my life for money for college? I think not. I would rather be a slave to the gov’t in form of debt, not due to a military contract, thank you very much!

  21. I’ve heard of loan forgiveness programs for specific majors and job positions, but never because Sallie Mae is blowing up your phone!

  22. I think it’s weird that the child taking out student loans didn’t come to mind immediately for either Debbie or some commenting. I’ve always assumed that when I go to college, I will take out loans and take the financial burden. My education is my responsibility, and if I want to go to a $50,000 per year school, I’ll have to pay for it myself. We all have choices with consequences, and if a student chooses an expensive school out of the parents’ reach, I don’t see why they, as an adult, shouldn’t have to take on that responsibility.

  23. I understand this position only too well. My parents’ small business went under when the economy went south. They’re going bankrupt this year and there is literally nothing they can do to help me with school. They’re doing everything they can to keep the lights on and food on the table at home, so I really can’t expect much from them in terms of aid.

    For me, this has meant a part-time job, countless hours spent trying to take advantages of loophopes in the school’s housing policy, lots of pleading with administrators, and the most stressful term I’ve dealt with thus far. It pretty much sucks, and my grades have taken a little dip (not too bad), but I have learned SO much about handling money in the past couple of months. Assuming that I don’t pull out all my eyelashes or totally run out of ideas/dirty tricks, the experience I’ve gained by having to take care of this by myself will probably benefit me throughout my life. I mean, I learned to actually follow my budget for god’s sakes. I know a lot of adults who still don’t know how to do stuff like this. I feel about 17 million times more prepared to live in the adult world now than I did this time last year.

    My advice: Let your kid deal with this herself. Figure out exactly how much she can expect from you so that she knows exactly what sort of miracle she needs to induce, and let her learn to do what it takes. Let her try this, and if she can’t do it, then maybe bend over backwards to help (the stress of not being able to think of my parents as a financial safety net was pretty bad. I got a therapist and it was fine, but I could see that really making someone crazy). She’s probably not as busy or stressed as she thinks she is. Classes probably don’t take up as much time as she thinks they do. I go to a school with a world-famous conservatory, and there are con students who are preparing to compete on a global scale and still manage part time jobs all over the place. She can do it too, I’m sure.

  24. I’m currently a senior in high school, and since I can remember, my parents have always told me the only way I could go to college is, literally, up to me. Which is, of course, entirely true. But I mean academically and financially up to me. That means I have to work my butt off to pay for college. I’m not even in college yet, and I have about $40,000 taken care of, all on small scholarships. You know, like a Jiffy Lube scholarship. Or even a railroad scholarship (I was the only one who applied!). There are tons of ways your daughter can make it through college. I’m the oldest of 8 kids, and my parents are in no economically-friendly position, at all, to hold my hand through college. Since I was 16, I’ve found spare time to offer piano lessons. From there, I’ve got about $4,000 accumulated. Your daughter can certainly offer voice lessons, taken that she’s an extremely talented singer! Now, I know what you’re thinking. Here I am, a high school student, who am I to give advice, when I probably have so much time on my hands and have no experience in a rigorous lifestyle that college students undertake? Well, let me tell you, I’m taking four AP classes, taking several courses at the community college on weekday evenings, I’m a Madrigal (so I sing tons too), I volunteer at the homeless shelter and the local Boys &Girls Club, I work two part-time jobs, and to top that off– I am the lead character in an upcoming motion picture production for the LDS Church in 2011. I’m not even kidding.

    Bottom line: if I can do it, so can she.

    I hope this helps!

  25. My son is a special ed teacher in a low socio-economic school and was hoping to be eligible for loan forgivenes. One loophole prohibited him from benefiting from this, are the any other programs that you are aware of that can help him. he had received a loan 9/1998 but it was paid off but they still aid he was ineligible. thanks

  26. My parents aren’t paying any of my college expenses. My mom sends me a box once a month with stuff I need and a $50 check but that’s it… other then that I had to take about loans to pay for my education. Sure my parents would’ve loved to take out loans to pay for me but I have three younger sisters who need to go to college also and it would be financial suicide to take out loans on all four of us. If you help one of the children you have to help them all otherwise you’ll get a whole load of family problems. While it sucks (I’m nto looking forward to dedicating my income to loans in 3 years) you have to make her pay for part if not all of it. Do what you can obviously but you can’t do it all. If you’re lucky your daughter will meet the man of her dreams, and he’ll happen to be a chemical engineer or an astro-physicist and then his high paying job can pay her loans. There are also programs where you can pay the interest while your student’s in college so they don’t have an additional 4 years of accumulated interest.

  27. I have a very important question for you. Im a returning student at my local university. I just found out 2 weeks before classes start that could go to a different college closer to home for 1/4 of the price the university is charging me. Can I transfer my FAFSA over to this college in the nick of time? The only proplem is I already received a disbursement in my checking from the University. Am I able to take the remaining balance from the FAFSA at the university and transfer to the college? Another student told me that I would have to be charged the price of the university and go to the college that is cheaper. Does that make sense? I would appreciate whatever info you can give me. Thank you.

  28. I cannont imagine what it would be like to have parents pay the bills while I got my education. I am a non-traditional student and right out of high school I paid my college costs out of my own pocket. No loans, scholarships, or grants. My mom was a single parent with 2 kids, and it was understood that anything beyond food and shelter we had to finance ourselves.

    I started working at age 9 and was able to pay my own way in 1987-1991 while going to college–this includes tuition, room and board, etc. It was not easy but I did it because there weren’t other options for me at the time. I dropped out of college to take care of mom when she became to ill to work, she has MS. I spent 22 yrs out of college working and carrying for her before returning to college.

    I got my AA in Business Information Technology from a local community college, with a 3.5 GPA. Of course graduation hit just as the economy imploded so no jobs. So I went on to more college and am currently a senior at Seattle U. I have scholarships, grants, and yes loans to pay for college. I also work full time, while carrying a full course load, am doing an intership at Starbucks Coffee Company, and looking for a part-time job. My full time job is as a nurse for mom so she can live at home rather than a state nursing home.

    Yes, I have debt and no retirement fund. But my altrenative is to not further my education and stay home and wait for the economy to turn around so I can get a job.

    Debbie, your daughter may be happy letting you and your husband foot the bills. But the reality is that you can no longer afford to do so and keep your house, not to mention your son who will need some help for college in 3 years. Help your daughter budget both her time and money. Insist she stick with the budgets and finds at least a part-time job. If she has a newer car have her sell it and get a cheaper used one so she won’t have car payments. Apartment..? Wel there are these lovely things called roommates, shared housing, etc.

    I know California rent is expensive–I lived in California for 26 yrs. But I never paid $825 for a 1-bedroom in my life. There are studios that are cheaper, or again roommates. I pay $992 right now for a 2-bedroom in Seattle (mom lives with me), which is cost-wise equal to California. Anything over $700 for a 1-bedroom anywhere is crazy, and probably not worth the money for a college student. If you live close enough to commute she should move home to save on lving expenses, and possibly chip in a little to household costs–cheaper than rent but could go towards food. And why doesn’t she work???

    I have friends that are music/conservatory/ and vocal majors here in Seattle. They all work. Some at movie theaters, bars, as tutors… If she makes a schedule of when classes, rehersals, etc. are she can see which days/eves she has a few hours of open time. She should be working at least 10 hrs a week. It will help pay for transportation, food, etc. FYI, I don’t have a car. I ride the bus, walk, or commute with friends. I can’t afford a car–not payments, not gas, or maintance. Your daughter could get a job working at a local theater as an usher–pay plus gets to see shows for free. This would also give her insight into the business she is studying–maybe a work study possibility.

    I’m not saying that students shouldn’t let their parents pay for college is the parents want to, but to not contribute when your folks are struggling is crazy. You say your daughter is doing well at UCI. Good. Now she can use those contacts and good grades to land scholarships, and job opportunities. She is in college, smart, and well liked. There is no reason she can’t use that to land scholarships, aid, and jobs. She will have to do it when she graduates anyway, so no time like the present to learn those skills.

    I’ve always said that my friends that have parents paying their way are lucky. But come graduation most of them have little to no idea how to land a job, make a budget they can live with, and manage their time and money. While I may be a little in debt (student loans thus far: $20,000 for AA, another $18,000 for SU), and have some credit card debt (due to loosing second job with economic downturn); but I know how to job hunt, interview, get hired, live in my means, and budget time/money. I know how much I can afford, and how much work I can handle and still get high marks. I have learned how to fill for scholarships/grants, and even loans. So where my friends that don’t have to hustle to make ends meet while in school are getting a degree they still have a lot to learn when it come to supporting themselves successfully.

    I will be going to grad school next fall and have already begun calculating what I will need to afford it. I have started applying to grad schools, for financial aid, looking at job prospects in the areas near the grad schools. Plus lining up interviews for TA & RA positions. I am looking into housing near the grad schools I’m applying. None of the college kids having that will be graduating with me in June, and that have mommy & daddy paying for everything have an idea of where to start on these things. They think their parents will take care of it when the time comes like they always have. Boy are they going to be in for a rude awaking if they find out they are on their own and expected to figure it out for themselves.

    So it is not just about the money. Your daughter needs to know what goes into being a financailly responsible adult sooner, not later. How is she going to feel if you wait until you can’t help her at all and she has to drop out to survive? Or when life throws her a curve and you aren’t available to fix it? I can tell you from watching priviledge kids hit the wall–PANICED! She isn’t going to know how to do simple things that will mean the difference between surviving and thriving.

    I’ve been in a middle class family lifestyle, and been homeless. Homeless sucks, but having learned early how to earn my own way, how to budget, how to save, and how to apply those skills has meant the difference between being at the bottom of the barrel and getting out. Downturns happen. The Great Depression, the Recession of the 1970s, this current recession…. The difference between who survives and who ends up forever on the looosing end is what they know about how to earn in any circumstance. Someone handed wealth is less successful getting out during a downturn that those that had to earn their money. Those handed it don’t know how to earn it if it gets lost. Those that worked for it have the tools, skills, and life experience to know they cna earn money again in the future. So don’t shelter your daughter from the reality. Tell her what you can and can’t do for her.

    Help her make thos budgets–one for using her time, and one for manoy. Help her stick to it. Encourage her to work–even if it is part-time at McDonalds (McDonalds has created more millionaires than other copmanies in America). Give her emotional support in lue of financial support when possible.

    Also it is not to early to let your son know that he needs to start saving for college. Enoucrage him to get a part-time job and get the best grades he can. A lot of financial aid is based on GPA–the higher the more money they give you for grants/scholarship. Have him do his first 2 years at community college to get his general ed courses. Then transfer to his choice school. Have him make the same time/money budgets and stick to them. It will give him a head start for college.

    Use more of your money to pay down your own debts than you put towards their college. They have a longer time span to repay student debt than you do before you retire. So take care of you first, then your retirement, then their college. It will reduce your stress, help them better prepare for the real world where they have to foot the bills themselves. It will be tough on you and your kids at first, but in the long run you’ll all be better off. You will have less money worries, and they will get to be independent, responsible, and financially savvy.

    Good luck:)

  29. Hello, My name is Nancy. I’m attending a two-year college and already graduated with a Social and Behavioral Sciences degree. I’m now trying to get a degree in liberal arts, but I’m unable to get finanical aid because I went over my credits. According to the school I attend if I go over 72 credits, I will not be offered finanical aid. Classes I kept and completed gives me a total of 65 credits. However, classes I dropped are also counted (total of 83 credits). If I were to transfer another college, Can I get my finanical aid back or do I have to transfer to a university to get it back??

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