Judy Moseman answers a question regarding financial aid in "special circumstances," such as the loss of a parent.
Q: My dad died recently. Not only was he the major wage earner in our family, but he was also very sick for many years, so my family has a lot of medical bills for his care. I've heard that sometimes schools evaluate financial aid applications more closely when a student has "special circumstances" like mine. Is that true? Do colleges really offer more aid to students like me? Would it be enough to make a real difference?
A: I'm very sorry that you lost your father. The circumstances you describe are "special" indeed. Do talk with the people in the financial aid office about your situation. Here's why. First, they will work with you to be sure that the FAFSA form you have filed reflects your current situation. If your father died after the form was filed, they will help you change your application. It will be important that financial aid officials consider your mom's income, instead of what both of your parents earned.
This makes a tremendous difference in the amount that can be awarded. They are also able to adjust the results of your FAFSA form to allow for significant medical expenses like you mentioned. Given your specific situation, there are probably other adjustments that can be made to your financial package.
I strongly urge you to talk with the financial aid people at the school you plan to attend. It should make a definite difference in your ability to afford college.
Written by Judy Moseman