Marissa’s a smart gal. She’s done her student loans homework and she knows how much she’s allowed to borrow from the federal government each year. She’s got kids to feed and bills to pay, and she’s counting on using those loans to do so.
Problem is, well before she reached that point, her school has cut off her student loans. And yes, they can do that.
Howdy Judge Josh!
(…removes hat…) Evenin’, ma’am.
I am currently a non-traditional student enrolled in my senior year as a special education major! I am married with two children and like everyone else, times are hard for us right now but I am determined to graduate.
My question is in regards to the financial aid package that I was offered. When I completed my FAFSA my EFC is zero (o), told you we were poor! They anticipate my cost of attendance for this year at $21,240.
If there’s ever a good time to be poor in life, it’s when you’re going to college, is it not? 🙂
I was extremely lucky and have received Pell grants, teaching grants, and an excellent scholarship. After these were deducted it left me needing $3200 of which I got $2750 in subsidized loans and $450 in unsubsidized loans.
Wow, congrats. That’s a pretty nice package there…but I sense trouble on the horizon.
They are telling me that I cannot get anymore money for the semester because I have met my cost of attendance and they cannot give me anymore than what it costs to attend. This is the second semester that I have taken out loans so I know that I have not maxed out my loans.
I noticed that as a senior I can take out $12,500 in student loans. We desperately need the extra money this semester but I am being told that I cannot get any more. Is this correct?
Yes. Here’s the thing: Yes, it’s true that there’s a limit of $12,500 for independent juniors and seniors like yourself; however, that limit presupposes that the loans you DO take will be put toward the cost of attending your school.
That’s where that “cost of attendance” figure comes in. That’s basically your school doing some math and then saying, “Look: It costs $21,240 to attend here, all included. We’ll get you funding up to that point, but any costs you have beyond that are your own problem, because we know it costs $21,240 to go here and no more, so we’re not giving you loans for extra crap beyond that.”
More or less, that’s what they’re saying. This is to stop people from gaming the system and taking out an extra $5,000 to pay off their credit card bills, delinquent bar tabs, etc. So while that $12,500 limit is there, it’s not an open credit line that’s guaranteed for you to be able to use however you like.
Can I take out the full $12,500 in loans that I am able too even though this would put me over the estimated cost of attendance?
Possibly, but you’re going to need to plead with your financial aid office for special consideration — which I think you have a good shot at. More on that in a second.
Some other things that I am not sure matter or can be used but I will throw them out there for you.
First, they are anticipating my room and board to be $8800 but my own personal room and board amounts exceed this amount. I brought this to their attention and was told that since I had a husband that all those costs were cut in half making my half less than the $8800. Doesn’t sound to fair to me.
Actually, I’d disagree with you on this one — I think that’s pretty fair. If a student is married and living under the same roof with an able-bodied spouse, then it’s reasonable for them to assume that spouse is providing some level of financial help and that you therefore don’t bear the same financial burden that you would if you DIDN’T have a spouse living with you. I know all situations differ, of course, but overall I think that’s a pretty fair assumption that saves taxpayers many billions.
Second, I have day care expenses totaling close to $500 each month.
Now, this one you can take to the financial aid office when you’re pleading your case for special financial hardship. Get receipts for your expenses. Get a letter from the day care provider that says yes, Marissa’s kid(s) come here every week and incur this $500 cost every month.
Third, I had to have emergency surgery last week and we will be getting a bill for the full amount since we do not have health insurance. I will also need a follow up surgery in a few weeks.
Same here — medical emergencies ought to get you the largest amount of special consideration. Again, bring in as much documentation as you can showing the dates and costs of the surgery. And if you’ve got anything showing that you must have the follow-up surgery, bring that, too.
Fourth, we have $200+ going out each month in prescriptions.
I don’t know if that one will help sway the financial aid office or not, but bring it in. You never know.
I know this is a lot but I need help, I cannot quit now I’m too close!! Thanks for your help and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Sure. Here’s the takeaway — the financial aid office is a key player here. It’s time to start kissing ass with them, getting on a first-name basis with people, being extremely polite and grateful when you’re dealing with them, etc.
Remember, these are all normal human beings who work there, and they’re much more likely to help someone they like and sympathize with than someone who’s a dreadful pain in the ass. (Granted, they’re humans who have heard a LOT of financial sob stories and are often preternaturally hardened to such things — that’s why you bring the documentation).
If the financial aid office still gives you the cold shoulder and you still want to borrow money to meet those expenses, then you still have the option of using private student loans. We’ll deal with that topic tomorrow.
Good luck, Marissa, and let us know how it goes!
— Comments/questions for Marissa or me? Let us know in the comments below.