Questions about retirement plan contributions and help for a student whose brother has cancer - Fastweb

Questions about retirement plan contributions and help for a student whose brother has cancer

Mark Kantrowitz

April 19, 2010

What are my options are for receiving hardship support to assist in paying for my daughter’s college education? My son was diagnosed with cancer in 2005. Since then the medical bills have drained my savings. Even though I make a decent living, finances are tight. In February my son’s cancer returned requiring very aggressive chemotherapy and medical care. My daughter has received scholarship money but it is not enough. My income as reported on the FAFSA does not reflect my expenses or situation. — Martin S.

Ask the college for a professional judgment review. Some colleges call it a special circumstances review or financial aid appeal. The college will want documentation of your son’s situation. A letter from his doctor and copies of one year’s worth of unreimbursed medical bills should be sufficient. If the college financial aid administrator determines that your situation merits an adjustment, she will reduce your income on the FAFSA by the amount of your unreimbursed medical expenses. (The amount of the reduction may be slightly less, to the extent that medical expenses are already considered by the income protection allowance in the need analysis formula.) This will decrease the expected family contribution and increase the amount of financial aid.

There are also several scholarships available for siblings of children who have had cancer. You can find a list of such cancer scholarships on the FinAid site at

Tell the dean of student affairs at the college about your family’s situation. The dean can alert the college’s counseling staff to pay extra attention to your daughter, since she may be worried about her brother’s health. A cancer diagnosis is stressful for the entire family.

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