Dependent Status Leaves Many in the Lurch | 04.06.09
My Monday Rant…
So let me get this straight. You can get your license between the ages of 14 and 18 (depending on your state), you can vote and join the military at 18, and hit the casino’s at 21 with an alcoholic beverage in hand. But for some godforsaken reason you must be 24 to be deemed independent for school purposes according to the Department of Education’s rules. The reason that status is so important is because you can qualify for more aid if you are independent vs. dependent.
It is true that more and more students are remaining home longer these days, but what about those under 24 who are legitimately independent? My cousin Tracy has been on her own since she was 18. She pays for rent, a car loan, and all her other monthly bills (credit card, utilities, cable, etc). Yet when she was completing her FAFSA last year, at the age of 20, it called for parental information because she was under 24. Is that fair?
Who drew the independent line in the sand at 24? You can support yourself, but we want you to list your parents and their six figure salary on your FAFSA so that you get no aid. This is just one of the reasons the FAFSA process is so frustrating for so many.
True, you can apply for a dependency override but those are exceptionally rare according to the DOE.
Many students, like my cousin, are now forced to work until they turn 24 and then go to school once their status is converted to independent. It is so sad.
24 may be a good series on Fox, but 24 in the land of the studentville can be quite cruel.
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