Your parents won't fill out their part of the financial information (usually last years' tax return information) on the FAFSA -- Now what?
What can you do if your parents refuse to help with your FAFSA? The federal government requires your parents to submit their federal income tax information on your FAFSA until you are 24 years of age.
Which means that for 3-6 years of your adult life you are bound to the financial and charitable whims of your parents.
This is wrong and everybody knows it. But somehow it is still part of how Title IV student loan disbursement works.
I know lot's of
You can ask parents nicely, explain how you won't get financial aid and cajole with bribes, but some parents absolutely will not, under any circumstance file their tax information with the financial aid department -- regardless of any financial aid, opportunities, college education, etc. their kids might lose.
There is no legal way to force parents into participating against their will even though it materially damages the adult offspring's interest in future benefits. Isn't this treading on constitutional rights? I'm pretty sure it is... but I haven't seen one legal case in the lit, so either the oppressed are unwilling to attack their own parents in court or I'm wrong. Am I wrong? Leave a comment.
And how egregious is it that the rules of our federal government pit children against their parents and parents against their children? If this doesn't make the case for better rules - what does?
Before you totally give up on your college dreams, you should know how to get around the problem of parental income FAFSA requirements.
Every college has a financial aid office that disburses the funds sent to them by the federal financial aid department. In that office is a special person who can override certain things.
One of those things is the requirement for your parent's federal tax information. This special person, usually called a "financial aid officer" cannot override this requirement for just any old reason. There has to be a specific, reasonable, logical reason for him to make the override.
Just because your parents don't want to submit the information is not reason enough. There are really only two or three reasons I know of that fin aid officers will override the parental information requirement.
One reason is that your parents are abusive and you are afraid to push the issue with them. (Police reports or other proof is required.) A second reason is that both of your parents are in jail. Third reason -- you have no idea where your parents are and haven't communicated with them in over a year. All of these are good reasons parental tax information is not required for your FAFSA.
There may be other criteria for overriding the parental requirement -- you should always schedule a visit with your financial aid officer to discuss your problems. Be sure to inform the receptionist or the person you talk to on the phone the reason for your visit so she can put you with the right person. Financial aid officers are harried. Be nice. And patient. Keep trying.
Some kids are going to court and becoming emancipated before they reach the age of 18 so they don't have to worry about what their parents will do (or not do) regarding FAFSA information.
Emancipation is different in every state; it's not easy and I don't recommend it as a strategy. It could later be construed as fraud if your parents have any money available, whatsoever, that could have been put towards your education. (Even if they refuse to put it towards your education - the 24 years of age thing STICKS.)
This 24 years of age rule is all about reducing financial aid fraud, in the first place, so be wary if you pursue legal emancipation. Your whole family could end up in hot water down the road.
Getting married, having your own dependents or joining the military automagically makes you independent of your parents in the eyes of the Federal Student Aid program.
As a strategy for gaining independence? Positively indecent. These rules are medieval at best, pathological at worst, illuminating the need to revamp the entire federal student loan system from the core out.
Who the heck is running this system and making these rules? Vote for student loan sanity.
Don't give up your dream because your parents won't help with FAFSA. You can do this. Use the workarounds and if necessary... go to the mat. Write your congress person.
To sum up:
How to deal with parents who refuse to fill out their portion of the financial aid form (FAFSA)...
1. Talk to your schools' financial aid officer.
2. Become legally emancipated from your parents, in court. (you have to do this before you turn 18)
3. Get Married.
4. Have a baby.
5. Join the military.
So ridiculous. Get involved to change how our student financial aid system works.