I periodically get emails from teenagers, who are freaking out because their parents plan to contribute little if anything to their college education. Many of these kids are from affluent families, who could afford to kick in far more than they are planning. I don’t understand parents with good paying jobs who have no problem dumping the entire college expense on their children.
I got an email a few days ago, for instance, from a high school senior from Maryland, who told me that her parents made about $130,000 a year and had saved just $8,000 for her and her twin brother to attend college. She was going to be on her own to pick up the almost the entire tab. Don’t get me wrong, I believe students need to contribute to their college education no matter how much their parents make. It is, however, unfathomable that some students are taking on debt of $50,000, $75,000 or more for a college education.
Some parents hope that their teenagers can be declared independent students so they can qualify for need-based student financial aid. But folks, that route is extremely difficult. If you’re curious, what follows are the questions from the federal government to determine if a student can qualify for student financial aid as an independent student. You have to answer “yes” to at least one question to be considered an independent student:
- Are you at least 24 years old?
- As of today, are you married?
- At the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year, will you be working on a master’s or doctorate program (such as an MA, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, EdD, or graduate certificate, etc.)?
- Are you currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Armed Forces for purposes other than training?
- Are you a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces?
- Do you have children who will receive more than half of their support from you between July 1, 2009, and June 30, 2010?
- Do you have dependents (other than your children or spouse) who live with you and who receive more than half of their support from you, now and through June 30, 2010?
- At any time since you turned age 13, were both your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court?
- Are you, or were you an emancipated minor as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- Are you, or were you in legal guardianship as determined by a court in your state of legal residence?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2008, did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2008, did the director of an emergency shelter or transitional housing program funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?
- At any time on or after July 1, 2008, did the director of a runaway or homeless youth basic center or transitional living program determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless.