I know the feeling of great excitement when your child gets accepted to the colleges that they have applied to. It is one of our “secret” measures as a parent that we place in front of us. Parents can tend to get way more excited about the acceptance letters. Then the reality hits when you see the financial aid package with the language that “invites” you as a parent to take out a Parent Plus loan. As if it is a plus to not only have your student take out their own loans but now you as Parents are identified in the “Financial Aid” package. Then horror strikes when you read further and you see the outstanding balance left “unmet” after they have calculated the Parent Plus Loan into the package….AHHHHHHHH
Take a step back for a moment and roll up your sleeves…. there is still one more potential option…the unusual circumstances route. Each college has a method for taking unusual circumstances into consideration. Go to the school’s financial aid page and or go to the schools search option and search through their FORMS. If you can’t find it then call the office directly. They will point you to the FORM they use or the instructions.
Possible examples of unusual circumstances:
- Tuition and expenses at elementary or secondary education programs
- Medical or dental costs not paid by insurance
- A family member who has recently become unemployed or underemployed
- Changes in income
- A move
- Deployment of either parent
- Elderly parent moving into home
Follow the instructions of the colleges process and give them all documentation supporting your circumstances. I have found that most colleges are very good about trying to work with you and help. However they need the supporting documents. If they ask for a letter then write a letter that discusses the facts and support it. Try to be less emotional and more factual and too the point.
Eample: My wife was laid off in January 2012 and our income was reduced by 40%. She was rehired in August however she had to buy uniforms for the job costing $340.00 which came directly out of her paycheck and her mileage for the new job has increased from a 30 mile commute to a 60 mile commute increasing our expenses. We have attached her paychecks to support our circumstance including the receipt for uniforms and the receipts for gas and mileage increase.
Most parents do find that they have to readjust their income to accommodate college planning. The best time to start is when they are born however most start when they experience their first child heading to college.
It is very important to get into the mode of understanding the cost of college and how it will impact your life style and make choices sooner than later. And stay excited….your student did get into college and that is one step closer to having that guest room you also had secretly planned for.