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That is rough to have your fate tied to your parents’ income. I watched this happen to my best friend whose parents cut her off right before her senior year, because she moved in with a gay roommate. They’re strict evangelicals and they were punishing her for associating with sin. The financial aid office doesn’t have a form for that. She ended up being able to work enough to pay for the last year, but it was troublesome.

I worked for seven years for a program called Student Support Services. It is a federal program that helps first generation, low-income, and disabled students to finish college. We would regularly have our students run into the same problem you had. Financial aid packages that had a required parental contribution that parents would or could not pay. Worse yet, parents who refused to supply their tax forms for financial aid review. Our office would do everything in our power to find alternative sources of funding, but we weren’t always successful. Needless to say, I am in favor of making higher education available to people in the same way it is in other countries.

Most people who start college do not finish. You are not alone. You should never feel compelled to go back, but don’t feel like you aren’t welcome there just because you are older now…should you want to return. The SSS program I worked for was with working adult students who almost all were over 35. One of my students graduated at 70 years old. They won’t count your parents’ income anymore. Maybe someone in government will even work to make it more affordable.

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