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Financial Planning / Paying For College


Subject:  Re: Parent vs Child Assets Date:  8/9/2001  5:22 PM
Author:  elambeth Number:  4179 of 8558

Oh, for heaven's sake Nellie, give me some credit. It's very easy to stay within the strictures the law imposes. I assumed folks could figure the details out for themselves. What will I have to explain next, the fact that you must place your signature on the back of the aid check to cash it?

*sigh* Here's what you do: Let's say your college student has an income of $1000 a month from a part time job. Of this salary, $500 a month typically goes for rent, and $500 a month for other living expenses. All of a sudden, our hypothetical student gets a $1000 grant or loan, to be used, of course, only for allowable educational expenses.

So our intrepid student takes the $1000 loan and pays this and next month's rent with it. (Rent is, after all, an allowable expense for financial aid, but you could just as easily put it toward books or tuition if that would further ease your conscience.) Then, guess what? Our student no longer has to take $500 a month out of his check to pay for rent! He takes that money and instead invests it in a mutual fund or gives it to his parents, a small token of his esteem. Or does whatever else he pleases with it; it's his hard-earned money from his job, about which there are no special rules.

This example is hypothetical, but fairly representative of my experience. So please, rest assured that I used my loans in a manner wholly acceptable to uncle sam. I assume that you will now be gracious enough to retract your assertions that I am a criminal?

As for food stamps, I can't honestly believe you're as shocked as you purport. A sizeable percentage of my fellow students did the same thing, and it was quite a nice supplement to have while in school. In my fraternity of about 50 guys, I personally knew at least a half a dozen who received this type of aid. Now, I'll concede that this was a public university and thus a few of my brothers were from an economically diverse background. But none of us would have starved, or even dropped out of school without them; it was a nice augmentation to our budget. In fact, before you get on your high horse about the poor and underpriveleged again, allow me to speculate that the food stamps in fact allowed us to spend more money on something no different from what the majority of food stamp recipients spend their money on: alcohol. (As an aside, when I called these people repugnant, I only meant that their physical apperance in my firsthand experience was repelling to me, primarily due to odor or lack of personal hygiene. I in no way meant to cast aspersions on their character; I am sure that welfare recipients in general are all the most wonderful people if only I had had the opportunity to get to know them.)

But anyway, on my campus, this practice (getting food stamps) was pretty widespread. And I'll tell you something else: A lot of the students who got stamps didn't tell their parents about it... so if you have students in college, you might want to think twice about casting stones from your glass house. Of course, in the intervening years, many states have enacted "welfare reform", so this practice may not be as prevalent as it once was. But it was legal for us to obtain. The questionnaire read something like "Are you currently enrolled (taking more than 12 credit hours) at an institution of higher education." As it was summer, and I was not enrolled in classes, I answered honestly to the best of my ability, and the obvious answer to that question was "no". If the intended question had been "will you be enrolled as a full time student in the future, next semester?" then that is the question they should have asked; they should not have expected me (a needy food-stamp recipient, after all,) to second-guess the government and divine an unstated intent.

Now that that's all cleared up, can we please stop the unending barrage of nasty personal insults and get back to a civil discussion of the original topic? I've always been of the opinion that hurling invective reveals more about the chracter of the speaker than that of the intended target, but it's reached the point that it's drowning out all consideration of the actual topic of qualifying for financial aid.

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