I'm 16 years old and I'm the valedictorian of my senior graduating
class in New York City. This year was a very difficult one finding the
right college to go; fortunately I did find the perfect college. The
problem is that the college left me with an unmet need of almost
$13,000 when my Student Aid Report from the FAFSA said that my family
could only contribute $200. Are there any grants or scholarships that
I can still surely get? I live with my grandmother and she is going
crazy with all this. I really want to go away from home to this
college. Studying in city and staying at home will be a total mess,
for my grandmother works as a babysitter even at night trying to get
money for me and my brother. The noise of the kids and of all the
people that go to my home won't let me concentrate. Also, I have to
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share the room with her and my brother and that makes everything
— Carmen R.
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Congratulations on being your high school's valedictorian! I am always
very impressed by a student who succeeds academically despite economic
hardship. You should be proud of your accomplishment.
You may have your heart set on this college, but the unfortunate
reality is that you cannot afford it. It is one of the most expensive
colleges in the country. With
$13,000 in unmet need you would end up accumulating too much debt by
the time you graduated.
Colleges that practice gapping — failing to meet a prospective
student's full demonstrated financial need — fail to fulfill
their non-profit mission. It does not do any good to admit a student
only to deny them the financial aid they need to attend. What makes
the practice even more shameful is when the colleges offer
merit-based aid to students who do not have financial need.
Frankly, it is surprising that this college would leave you with so
much unmet need. You should ask the college for a professional
judgment review to appeal your financial aid package, as the college
may have overlooked important aspects of your financial situation.
When you registered with Fastweb it matched your personal background
profile with all of the available scholarships for which you are
eligible. As new scholarships are added to the database, you should
receive email telling you about them if you qualify. Check the "Bulk
Email" folder in your email to make sure the new scholarship
notifications aren't being filtered. Also make sure you answered all
of the optional questions in the personal profile, as students who
answer only the required questions match half as many scholarships.
Unfortunately, it is a bit late to be seeking private scholarships for
Don't forget about the Hope Scholarship tax credit, which can provide
up to $2,500 through your federal income tax return for amounts paid
to pay for college. You should file a return even if you don't have a
tax liability, as the Hope Scholarship tax credit is partially
refundable this year (up to $1,000). It isn't a lot of money, but
every penny helps.
If the college does not substantially increase your financial aid
package after your appeal, you will probably be better off attending a
less expensive college that is closer to home so you can save on room
and board. Since your grandmother's home is noisy, you may find it
easier to study in the college library, which should be much quieter.