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Posted by Sarah Roche on June 14, 2011
Non-Traditional students often face unique situations when it comes to financial aid. One of the hurdles I encountered was my work income and its affect on my FAFSA. Since I worked full-time before returning to school but worked only part-time while I was a student, the prior year income report on my FAFSA wreaked some havoc on my financial aid award. Today’s blog entry is intended to assist Non-Traditional students who may be facing the same situation.
Upon receiving my financial aid award, I calculated out my living expenses and potential income with my reduced work hours and reduced pay scale. I am one of the lucky few whose employer was willing to work with my schedule while I was a full-time student, but my rate and hours were drastically reduced.
My calculations scared me. I had anticipated being a “broke college student,” but this was excessive. The next day I visited Binghamton University’s Financial Aid Office during their walk-in hours in order to discuss my options.
I met with Financial Aid advisor Laurie Seymour to discuss my financial aid package. According to Laurie, the State and Federal portions of my package were going to be lower due to the cuts in funding at the government level. She placed my name on a list that would allow me to be considered if more funding became available. For many students, this would be the end of their options, but Non-traditional students who worked full-time before entering school do have a second option. Because my income would be drastically lower than my prior year income and would stay that way for the duration of my education, Laurie offered the option for me to appeal my Financial Aid award. I would have to prove that my upcoming income for 2011 should be considered in my award rather than my 2010 income.
In order to appeal, I had to fill out a large amount of paperwork as well as write a letter explaining my special circumstances. Although I was offered no guarantee that this would increase my financial aid package and I was warned that the process could take a long time, I hope that by appealing I will receive a financial aid package that better suits my needs.
Thankfully, the Financial Aid office at Binghamton University has been very helpful, answering my many questions and responding to emails in a timely manner. In a prior school that I attended, I am sure I would have found this situation much more difficult to deal with.
If you are a Non-Traditional student whose prior year income does not accurately reflect the income you will have while you are a student, I would recommend speaking with a Financial Aid counselor. You may be able to take advantage of opportunities you hadn’t been aware of in order to increase your financial aid award. With the stress that comes with returning to school, you don’t need added financial stress.