Don’t Be Overly Optimistic About Financial Aid

Don’t Be Overly Optimistic About Financial Aid

If I Knew Then What I Know Now: I Was Overly Optimistic about Financial Aid Packages

I have two daughters and one son. In September Kara will be entering her junior year in college, Kim will be a college freshman, and my son is in high school behind Kim. My husband has been disabled since 2005 and doesn’t work. I work in the insurance field.

I attended the financial aid talks when Kara was in high school and at one of the colleges she was considering. The speakers there all made it seem like we’d be OK. They said my husband’s social security disability payments wouldn’t be counted in our family income, for example.

We are not as OK as they made it seem. Kara attended Hofstra for a year and then left, partly because of finances. (They did give her a $7,500 scholarship, but tuition, room and board and fees came to almost $60,000.) Also, she wanted to attend a program that Disney offers college students for a semester, to gain some experience in the theatrical area. She applied too late to audition, however, so she worked in food service at Disney that semester. No matter, she loved it and will return to work there this summer.

Kara attended community college at home after the Disney program and will graduate in May with an A.A. in Music. Luckily, the Tuition Assistance Program  helped her and she didn’t have to take out additional loans for community college. She’s considering three colleges for next year. She’s been offered a $9,000 scholarship from a college in Albany, and we’re waiting for financial aid offers from the other two schools. One of them is Monmouth University, an expensive school in NJ.

Both girls have outstanding grades. Kim got a $20,000 Dean’s scholarship from a school outside Syracuse for next year, even better than Kara’s. She worked two jobs since junior year and will be a big help. The kids’ aunt passed away and left a small amount to us, which will also help. Luckily, after doing the FAFSA, we know that both daughters will be eligible for Pell Grants next year, but under $2,000 each

Unfortunately, Kara is about $42,000 in debt and still needs two more years of college, and we have two more kids behind her. We were expecting more help.

I feel like those speakers let us down and misled us. If I knew then what I know now, I would not have had such high hopes for financial aid covering enough.

Karen, NY

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