2 years ago
Paying for College

What if I can't get enough financial aid?


I am a high school senior looking to go to college, but I'm worried that I won't be able to afford it. I had to fill out the FAFSA without parental information because my parent would not provide it, meaning I can only get unsubsidized federal loans as aid. And from what I can tell, I may not be able to receive enough loans to cover tuition. My parent also will not let me fill out scholarships because they believe that they will affect their taxes and insurance.

For what it's worth, I come from a lower-income white family, am a straight-As student taking as many college courses as I can, and will move out after the new year.

Thank you!


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1 answer

Accepted Answer
2 years ago[edited]

I am sorry you are in this situation! I had a similar issue that my parents would not pay for my college. My mother agreed to pay for some of my first year and off I went to an in-state 4 year school with lots of loans and a couple small scholarships and work study jobs (these were low-paying). I ended up getting a credit card my freshman year and amassed quite a bit of debt quickly (be careful!) Over the summer before sophomore year, I lived with a relative out of state and worked as much as I could to save up for rent needed in the Fall- a group of 5 friends had rented a house off campus. I worked really hard that sophomore year as a student and a waitress at a restaurant within walking distance as I didn't have a car. I was paying all my bills and carefully saved all the evidence of this (paper statements). I met with the financial aid counselor and was able to apply for aid as an independent now that I could prove I was on my own. Colleges will not just believe you if you say your parents wont pay because some parents would say this to get more aid. I ended up taking a year and a half off to work full time and save money. I then enrolled in some classes at a community college and then back to the university as I worked and ended up graduating after 6 years total. I was really proud of my accomplishment. I did have loans I needed to pay many years following graduation though.

Looking back, it would have been easier for me if I got a better paying job as soon as I graduated high school, moved to an apartment, went to community college for one or two years first and established myself as independent during this time before transferring to a 4 year university. I still could have connected with local friends going to colleges nearby and would not have amassed as much debt. That said, I did enjoy parts of the on-campus experience my first year and would recommend you still try for this.

Especially as you may not have parents to fall back on, it is even more important to choose a highly employable major (perhaps along with a minor or double major in an area of interest). Use your college's career center/resources and get yourself an internship (preferably a paying one) to help get the best career experience and your foot in the door!

I recommend you reach out to financial aid departments at in-state schools and see if you can get a phone meeting to discuss your options and their recommendations for your situation. However, you should first discuss this with your guidance counselors at your high school to find out what recommendations they may have. Perhaps they could help clear up any misunderstandings your parents may have about taxes and insurance.

Best of luck to you and much respect to you for advocating and making it happen for yourself!

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Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
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