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Student story: Overcoming the financial aid process as an obstacle to college

This student faced challenges with the financial aid process for college. Their parents' were mystified by the process and were not used to keeping financial records, which are important for financial aid applications. The student relied on their sister's experience and online research to complete financial aid forms like the CSS Profile, often filling in zeros or seeking answers elsewhere.


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Video transcript

- When the financial aid process came, I... It was very difficult. It was very difficult explaining to your parents with very little familiarity with keeping financial records that all of a sudden you need all of these documents, because you need to give them all this information and then they can give you a financial aid package. They knew I needed financial aid, but they didn't know what the steps were to get there. My parents are very interesting. They're very hands-off parents. I will never say that they weren't supportive, but they were completely mystified by the entire process, because like I said, both of them... My dad works at a factory making sofas, and my mom works at a high school cafeteria. Completely not familiar whatsoever with college, the college admissions process or anything like that. So on the one hand they were very supportive, but on the other hand, when I would ask them questions about the financial aid stuff, they were just like, "I don't know. "I'm not quite sure what that is." And my sister had to deal with the same frustration when she was applying two years earlier. And so the only person I really had to go on was my sister's experience, but at the same time, old habits are hard to break, so my parents still didn't have detailed financial records. But one of the interesting things that does happen when you're in my particular situation is when you fill out things like the CSS Profile, a lot of it's just zeros. They'll be like, "What's your value of property here?" I was like, "I don't have property, "we don't have that, we don't have that." But when it came to things like what is the value of your car, or what is the value of your mortgage, I had to go back to ask my parents, and often they didn't really know what I was talking about, and a lot of times, I just kind of had to bypass them and sort of look it up online and try to figure out, and figure out through other people what that number might have been, figure it out through my sister, so that was frustrating. But like I said, my parents were as supportive as they possibly could be, but at the same time, they just didn't know what the process was like.