FAFSA blues: Not enough Financial Aid

It is that time again when students are to fill out the FAFSA. But for some students, filling out the FAFSA will not give them the Financial Aid they need. The majority of students are classified as dependents, which means their Financial Aid package is based on their parents’ income. 

Not surprisingly, this can be detrimental to some students who have fallen in the Financial Aid cracks because these “dependents” do not receive any monetary help from their parents. They have to fend for themselves by balancing work and school while simultaneously amassing an enormous debt. 

Some of these students do not qualify for grants either because when their parents make bank, the FAFSA sees this and expects parents will contribute to their child’s education. It makes the FAFSA presumptuous.  

However, circumnavigating around this obstacle is not easy either. Declaring yourself as an independent, in hopes of seeking more Financial Aid, is its own maze. Most young students coming out of high school and entering college are not 24 years old, married, a veteran or currently part of the military, an orphan, a ward of the court, someone with legal dependents other than a spouse, an emancipated minor, or someone who is homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.  

There should be an easier way for these few students who are limited to declare themselves as independent but presently, there is no pathway for them. Even filing your own taxes, demonstrating complete self-sufficiency, or your parents refusing to help pay for your college or withholding from completing the FAFSA, does not qualify a student for a dependency override. 

With no wiggle room, these students are left out of receiving any form of Financial Aid besides an unending accumulation of both subsidized and unsubsidized loans. So until there is something that can be changed about this obvious crack in the Financial Aid system, not much can be done. But that does not mean there is no small glimmer of hope. 

Kirkwood Community College is approaching its second application deadline for scholarships that can offer everyone much-needed financial relief. Even the few students who are not able to find help with FAFSA can apply for Kirkwood scholarships. The deadline is July 15 but it is always best to apply earlier. Just go to Kirkwood – My Hub, click “My Links” and scroll down to “Scholarships.”

Categories: Editorials, Opinion