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Financial Aid: Divorced parents, no support

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by ltrain, Mar 14, 2007.

  1. ltrain

    ltrain Senior Member
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    Hi guys,

    I know this is the wrong forum, but there are 0 people in the Fin Aid forum and I searched both it and here for my answer.

    My parents are divorced. I'm 25, live on my own, and don't receive any support from either of them. Up until I finished college, they both gave me support.

    Several schools have told me that I only need to input data for the "custodial" parent for their financial aid applications. I have no idea who this would be. I don't want to be unethical about it, but is it cool to just put whoever makes less? Anyone have a similar situation/answer?

    Thanks!
     
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  2. sirus_virus

    sirus_virus nonsense poster
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    To the extent that they require you to input at least one, then yes.
     
  3. KaraKiz

    KaraKiz I'm Ron Burgundy?
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    yeah, just list the one that makes less. or the one who will actually give you their tax info.. lol
     
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  4. bet22

    bet22 Junior Member
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    I'm in your same situation pretty much. I would put the parent that you lived with and were supported by for most of your life. If that parent happens to be the one that made less and didn't re-marry (so you don't have to put step-parent info) - all the better!
     
  5. bet22

    bet22 Junior Member
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    oops - double post. sorry
     
  6. OP
    OP
    ltrain

    ltrain Senior Member
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    Yeah, we had joint custody...half the week with each parent. I kid you not.

    Karakiz -- you are strangely right on about my family. My mom, who makes more, sent me her tax stuff a month ago. My dad still hasn't sent me his, even though I told him my deadline is tomorrow. Love the fam. ;)

    Thanks for the replies, guys.
     
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  7. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    My school requires both parents' info, regardless of their marital status. If your school only asks for one, if they don't specify, go ahead and put the one who makes less. Why not?
     
  8. BleepTastic

    BleepTastic Throbbing Member
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    What do students usually do when schools ask for both parents' info but they can only get one? For instance, a kid who is estranged from one parent. Do these schools realistically expect an absentee parent to all of a sudden submit all his/her financial information for a child he/she barely even speaks to?
     
  9. UMP

    UMP Recovered Under-Achiever
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    people from broken families are not allowed to go to med school
     
  10. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member
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    I've had to deal with this. You need a notarized letter from someone in the community (religious figure, social worker, physician . . .) explaining the situation. My mom suffers from a severe psychosis and believes that if she doesn't give me paperwork to go to school I will come home and live with her again (I've been married for 7 years btw, lol) . . . so I've had to do this multiple times. I've used my uncle who is a psychologist to write the letter. Call the school and ask them who they would accept such a letter from to make sure but this is what I did for AMCAS fee waiver and for finaid at medschools that required parental info.
     
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  11. Mayday

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    I had kind of wondered about this myself. I haven't heard from my father for 10 years or so. I've probably only seen him 15 times in my entire life. I have no idea how to get in contact with him. Hell, he wasn't even on my birth certificate till I was 15.
     
  12. scholj

    scholj Member
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    I'm planning on using the parent that makes the least amount. I'm not a dependant of anyone and I think I was emancipated when my parents were divorced. I haven't had any financial support from them since I was 18. And as a matter of fact, I used to pay their bills when I was 15. So yeah... I think it's unfair that they ask for parental information without taking the entire picture into account.
     
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  13. LifetimeDoc

    LifetimeDoc EM Attending
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    My first choice school (on the waiting list) said I could write a "letter" explaining that I haven't seen my father in 30+ years, and only submit my mother's information. But, I fully expect to get screwed yet again in the financial aid department as I always and end up borrowing the max in student loans, sending my meager savings to $0, running up the credit cards and being poorer than most other students in the end. :thumbdown:
     
  14. Doctor Bagel

    Doctor Bagel so cheap and juicy
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    Welcome to the club. :) Most of us regardless of parental marital status, income, etc. wind up borrowing to finance the vast majority of our educational expenses.
     
  15. gary5

    gary5 Senior Member
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    Since your mom is more cooperative / helpful, I'd use her information, especially if you need to submit it every year. My parents are married, but it was very difficult for me to convince my dad to release those bloody numbers. In the end, it didn't really matter. My financial aid dept has given me $1,000 so far, which is nearly nothing compared to the mountain of debt I'm accumulating.
     
  16. lilTXcatMD

    lilTXcatMD Member
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    Same situation -- I only put my mother's information because I haven't seen my father since I was 2 and he gave up all parental rights when I was about 8. If they want to force me to put father info, I will just tell them I don't legally have one.
     
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  17. Critical Mass

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    I don't give info on either parent. I haven't since I finished my Bachelor's. According to FAFSA, I don't have to. People working on doctoral degrees are already considered to be independent for purposes of federal aid (which will be the bulk of my offered package anyway).

    If your school wants the info for some kind of scholarship, then ask them what their policy is. It's better to comply with their rules than to try to be sneaky about it. Their policies tend to be based on decades of experience hearing tens to hundreds of "unique" sets of circumstances each year, so I would just write down whatever they tell you to.

    Despite growing up with a household income of 20-30K and being incredibly liberal relative to my environment, I'm not a big supporter of the whole "need-based" aid concept because I'm convinced that there is no fair way to objectively define the terms that it depends on. In my twisted view, the age of majority in and of itself makes you independent. Anything that happened to me after I left high school was pretty much my fault, but I shouldn't be eligible for more money than the guy sitting next to me because my parents made different decisions than his did.
     
  18. BleepTastic

    BleepTastic Throbbing Member
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    If you had just told me that before I spent thousands on applications and interviews...

    If you only submit one parent's info to the school, and they ask for both, they just won't consider you for institutional aid. To prevent delays, you should probably send in the legal papers showing you have only 1 guardian.

    In order to afford the school I'm thinking of, I'd need all the help I can get. So Psipsina's course of action seems the most reasonable for people in similar, more iffy, situations.
     
  19. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon
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    The main issue here is ethics. I mean, if both parents help you out (and are going to continue to do that) then it is not ethical to only list one (especially the one who makes less).

    The school/gov't will use this information to determine aid packages. These are, for the most part, a zero-sum game. That is, what you get, someone else does not. If you are only listing one parent so as to appear to come from 1/2 the money you actually do, that is not ethical.
     
  20. dbhvt

    dbhvt Senior Member
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    This is true for federal aid, but not necessarily for school aid (grants or loans). Also, as I understand it, submitting parent info on the fafsa as required by a particular school does not, in fact, impact federal aid. At my school, choosing not to submit parent financial information can only reduce your total aid package.

    This is not necessarily true. At my school, many of the school-based loans come from donated funds. The financial aid office does not eat up all of the interest from these funds each year. They tend to have a fair amount of wiggle room, and use their algorithm for need as the principal factor in determining the size of your aid-package (not the amount of money available). Of course, the system has to be based on some sort of overall estimate of the funds limits, but in practice, more money for you does not mean less for your classmate.
     
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  21. BleepTastic

    BleepTastic Throbbing Member
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    I think most people here are facing the opposite problem. They're expected to list both parents' financial info, and be denied for finaid if they don't, even though at least one of those parents won't be contributing a dime.

    Hmmm, does this mean the school's being unethical...?
     
  22. AmoryBlaine

    AmoryBlaine the last tycoon
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    Good point. I would challenge your assertion that most parents "won't be contributing a dime." While they might not be chipping in for tuition many will be buying plane tickets, making car payments, etc. My class is full of kids from upper middle class families (myself included) who are getting alot of help from home even if they are still taking out loans. We also know that if we were to get in over our heads because of some unexpected expense that we would have someone to fall back on, not so much for the truly "disadvantaged" student.
     
  23. psipsina

    psipsina Senior Member
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    I agree that this is something that is often taken for granted by those that have never gone without it. They never really think about the possibility of not having that constant safety net. I've been on my own since I was 16 and have had some scary moments when I really needed help and there was no one there to catch me and it makes a huge difference. Also no one helping to buy clothes etc makes a big difference in a budget. Even the stuff you get for christmas and birthdays etc in the average upper middle class home would make a big ole dent in my budget.
     
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  24. BleepTastic

    BleepTastic Throbbing Member
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    I was talking about most of the people in this thread, for whom the "not contributing a dime" comment seems to hold if you read about their family situations. I should have been clearer. I agree with you that the standard med and even undergrad student are from families as you've described. That's why this situation (for the people so far in this thread) is tougher to navigate through the financial aid process. I assume that the majority of med applicants never had to deal with welfare, foster care, minor emancipation or simpler situations, like an absentee dad. Thus the process and the FAQ's are geared towards the assumption that the student will be getting help from two parents.
     
  25. Dookter

    Dookter Senior Member
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    Just ask the schools what they want. Different schools have different methods. Duke requires all parental info, regardless of your age, etc. They do this to determine how much Duke grant money people get. And believe you me, if they did not, the system here would not work. Of the wealthier kids in my class, I am almost 100% positive many of them would suddenly be "independent" from their parents if parental info wasn't required. The system does have problems, but it's the only way I can see to make it work.

    So my only point here is to make sure you talk directly with each school's finaid people about what they require.
     
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