Do you qualify for financial aid?

Many students are shocked to discover after they turn 18 they must still report their parents' income on applications for financial aid. What is even more shocking to many is that the rule pertains not just to students who still live at home but even those who left home and are working full-time with plans to go to school part-time. You must include the income of your parents until you reach the age of 24, but there are a few ways you can reduce or eliminate the impact your parents' income might have on your financial aid.

Getting Married

If you should marry before you reach the age of 24, you will no longer need to claim the income of your parents on your financial aid application. Even though you may then need to claim the income of your spouse, this could be beneficial for you since in all likelihood your spouse's income may not match that of your parents. In addition, if you are employed, you will be using only two incomes instead of three (assuming both of your parents work).

Waiting to Attend School

Another option you may choose is to wait until you turn 24 to enroll in college. While this may delay the start of your career, it also has the added benefit of allowing you to apply for financial aid based only on your income instead of that of your parents. Since you are just beginning your employment history, you may not make anywhere near the taxable income your parents do.

Siblings Attending College

While having your siblings attending college will not prevent you from needing to claim the income of your parents on your financial aid application, it may decrease the amount of financial responsibility your parents have for your education thus increasing the amount of financial aid to which you are entitled.

Tuition Reimbursement

While most people do not see the tuition reimbursement that companies offer as a type of financial aid, it actually falls under into the category of a privately funded grant. The company for which you work sets guidelines that you must follow, but you are not obligated to provide any information on the income of your parents. The usual qualifications for tuition reimbursement include:

  • Must have worked for the company for a pre-determined amount of time.
  • Must receive either a "B" or "C" in the course
  • The program must be related to your current position or one into which you could apply after graduation (some companies are very specific on this while others are more lenient)

Before you begin filling out applications for college you want to review the information on financial aid in order to determine where you fit into the mold. Once you know what you need to do, follow all the guidelines and fill out as many applications as necessary in order to obtain the funding you need to complete your education.

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