How can I make $4300 in a short period of time?
June 29, 2011 9:39 AM   Subscribe

I've been selected for federal verification by my school's financial aid office, and my Mom is refusing to provide the documents. I need to make $4300 in the next few months in order to stay in school. What are my options?

I'm unemployed and I've been looking for around three years now with no bites, so that option is off the table. I've tried seeing a career counselor, I've only been applying to jobs like McDonalds, Waitressing, etc, so advice pertaining to that probably won't be helpful. I also don't have a credit card and don't qualify for private loans, bank loans, and things of that sort. I already tried.

I've talked to the financial aid office numerous times, and their verdict is there's nothing they can do. I've also tried talking it out with Mom, and it's clear that she isn't going to send the school the requested information. I read something online about getting unsubsidized loans without their information in this scenario, but my financial aid office doesn't do that. I registered for a summer semester before all this happened thinking everything was fine, and now I need to pay off the entire semester on my own.

Here are things I've considered:

1) Donating eggs - I've done the pre-application but I'm worried I won't be a suitable donor because I'm short, slightly overweight, no significant academic achievement and a minority.

2) Selling things and donating plasma - would help some but not enough to stay enrolled.

3) Using the money I make from selling things to pay the application fee and send my highschool/sat record to apply to another school that will (hopefully) accept my FAFSA. I know some schools with open admissions will admit you without previous transcripts as long as you provide them by the time you graduate, and hopefully I'll be able to pay the school by then. The downside to this is I'd just managed to pull my GPA up, was preparing an application for the honors program, etc. I'd basically have to start all over. The upside is I wouldn't have to worry about dropping out and would have 1.5-2 years to send in my transcripts. This option is most favorable to me, but also the most costly because I'd need to retake my SAT to account for the extra math classes I've had at this college, and since I have a GED I'd be waiting another year before I could consider honors again.

Are there any options that I'm not considering? The only other thing I can see is taking a year off and hope I don't get selected next year. I'm already registered for the fall and can technically still attend, but since I just declared my major my schedule is out dated and I'd be wasting 4 credit hours on a class I no longer need. I also wouldn't be able to do another semester unless I paid off both by January, which would total $8000.

I've thought about taking a job such as stripping since I know a lot of people choose that option, but I'm worried about psychological effects it would have on me in the future. I already feel resentful because I feel like I'm being forced to consider things (have also thought of "other things" in that general area) that could damage my future reputation in order to actually have a future. Considering my lack of success with finding a job, if I drop out of college I'm pretty sure I'll be stuck for quite some time living with my parents, with no car, etc.
posted by biochemist to Work & Money (40 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know this doesn't help right now (or maybe it does?) but why are you living under the same roof with someone who's actions will cause you to drop out of college??

If you moved out of your parent's home, would that change your financial aid standing favorably?
posted by jbenben at 9:49 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


biochemist: "and my Mom is refusing to provide the documents."

This sounds like the best route to go after. Why is she doing this?
posted by dunkadunc at 9:50 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


what documents are your mom refusing to provide? if you need your parents tax info, i'm assuming you are being claimed as a dependent... if that is the case, you just need a copy of their taxes...

if you are an indpendent, then you don't need their information.

If you have serious questions about this and the process, contact dept. of Ed's Ombsbudsman, http://www.ombudsman.ed.gov/ they could help resolve the dispute...
posted by fozzie33 at 9:53 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can you perhaps clarify the situation with your mom and what kind of documents they want from her? Does this entire problem go away if she produces some financial records?

If so, obtaining those records is a better option than stripping or worse. It seems that either your mom is trying to hide something that the documents would reveal, or she's being vindictive or irrational about something here. Any idea what's going on?
posted by zachlipton at 9:54 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Something about your explanation here is unclear. If the option of last resort is "living with [your] parents," that means you have another parent and you have access to their home. How about asking your dad for the paperwork? How about just taking the paperwork yourself?
posted by bcwinters at 9:54 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure what the relationship with your mother is, could you clarify? The school needs her 1040 and W2s from 2010 taxes to determine your financial aid eligibiility.

Can you explain to your mother that this information is mandatory for you, but does not affect her financial status at all? It is merely for FAFSA calculation purposes, and doesn't put her on the hook for anything else?
posted by Think_Long at 9:56 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


First of all, how old are you? When I was 18, my family refused to provide financial information, and refused to sign an affidavit of nonsupport. My school's financial aid office worked with a student services counselor/social worker type person to have a caseworker sign the nonsupport forms for me.

If I recall correctly, there is an age after which you can "opt out" of some of the family financial support paperwork, but you would need to check with your school's financial aid office for this information. Maybe they can help you.

It might work to have a caseworker or minister talk to your mom, but based on my experiences, I wouldn't bet the farm on it working.

Stripping is both easier and harder now than it was when I did it (in the 80s). Easier because you can look online for clubs that meet your particular needs for anonymity, level of touch allowed, pay schedule, and whatnot. Harder because now that strip clubs are so numerous, you may find yourself pressured to cross your personal boundaries because your club wants to compete with Club X that offers a service you don't want to provide.

MeMail me if you want to discuss this option further.
posted by S'Tella Fabula at 9:56 AM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


i'm assuming she's referring to these worksheets, and since she is talking about her parents, she must be talking about being a dependent... http://www.ifap.ed.gov/vgworksheets/1112VerificationWkshts.html
posted by fozzie33 at 9:56 AM on June 29, 2011


Is this paperwork you can request duplicates of, in some way, from the gov't? If you're listed as a dependent on a tax return, for example, can you somehow get that from the IRS instead of going through her?
posted by galadriel at 10:03 AM on June 29, 2011


I assume the mother is not filing taxes or not filing complete tax forms and does not want to bring this up again.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 10:03 AM on June 29, 2011


You are considering permanent solutions to a temporary problem. Donating eggs can have lasting negative effects. Stripping when you feel forced into it sounds horrible.

I took a wilderness survival class a few years back and the thing that had the greatest lasting impression was the idea of solve problem A before Problem B. If your fiscal state is a mess then clean it up over the next couple years. Disconnect yourself from your mother completely. Work hard somewhere until you have the money to reapply. Going to school when you have no money, no support from anywhere and your over your head in debt sounds really really rough.

Take your time, figure things out. Having 2017 stamped on your diploma vs. 2015 will not make a huge difference. Flopping in classes because your life is a mess will.

Good luck and remember that everything will work out.
posted by Felex at 10:04 AM on June 29, 2011 [5 favorites]


As others have said, you should find out more about your mother's unwillingness to help. Is your mother worried that she will be financially responsible for your loans? Maybe you can reassure her. Is she working legally? Perhaps she doesn't have legal financial information to provide. Does she not approve of your degree path? Maybe there's something you can show her that will help.

Another thought: You will qualify automatically as an independent student once you hit 24 years old. Can school wait?

I know from your past AskMe history that you've tried a lot to find a job, but maybe you need to look in new directions before saying that option is off the table. Your campus has job postings perfect for students. There are temp agencies. There's babysitting and clerking and grocery restocking and so on. There are a million jobs that aren't stripping, and while the money will come in more slowly, your self esteem is probably worth it. Talk to every person you know about finding a job. Someone might know someone who needs you. Resumes and applications are almost always the hardest way to find a job. Talking to people is both the most effective and the easiest.
posted by clone boulevard at 10:05 AM on June 29, 2011 [3 favorites]


Can you find out if your local community college will approve your FASFA?
posted by k8t at 10:06 AM on June 29, 2011


it's not for everyone, but you might considering volunteering for "healthy patient" drug research studies. the inpatient studies are a pretty legit way to make a substantial amount of money (roughly $2000/week at the better clinics) in a pretty short time. it'd be helpful to know where you're living, though, as the best places are concentrated in texas & the midwest. feel free to memail me for relevant info + advice.
posted by jjoye at 10:09 AM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


also, you can memail me for info about financial aid process, dept. of ed, and other doc's... i have an insider prospective and can point you to the right person to contact...
posted by fozzie33 at 10:10 AM on June 29, 2011


Is emotional blackmail an option?

Tell family and family friends that you just got a job stripping because dear ol' mom wouldn't provide the documentation necessary for you to get college loans. Then, once your mother withers under the accusations of her peers and submits the documents, get the fuck out of that living situation.

Yes, I am aware that this is pretty horrible advice but sometimes you need to hustle to move forward.
posted by Loto at 10:13 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I meant to say what Felex said.

Like a few others above, something like this happened to me at your age, too.

Defer school and get independent first, then get your degree. It's better than many of the alternatives.
posted by jbenben at 10:19 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


Joining the military is a valid option even if it's not especially attractive. At the very least, it takes care of three problems:getting you out of your parents house, which sounds toxic; giving you a source of income; and financing for school at some point.
posted by desjardins at 10:20 AM on June 29, 2011 [4 favorites]


if you are an indpendent, then you don't need their information.

Remember folks: student financial aid considers you dependent (whether you are or not) until you are 24. You have to get the right people to sign off that you are indeed independent.

I'm, sadly, going with Loto. The information your mother is refusing is generally tax and income information that you have to provide to get student loans regardless of whether she is actually supporting you. There's no reason, unless she is afraid of something like tax evasion, for her to deny you this. By denying a few reasonable documents she is actively denying you to pursue your education.

Another way I knew a few friends got around this was by getting married in what was a sham marriage. Not saying it's right for you or anyone, but it is an option.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:22 AM on June 29, 2011


Also: I know a lot of strippers. Don't become a stripper unless you want to become a stripper. Unless you have the mentality to hustle, don't mind getting groped by strange men and can shed off verbal, mental and physical abuse easily you are not cut out for it.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 10:26 AM on June 29, 2011


Have you considered TELLING your mother "look, I am actually considering STRIPPNIG if I don't get this document signed. Are you SURE you don't want to reconsider doing this for me?"
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:39 AM on June 29, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's completely insane that your mother won't give you this information. I'm in the emotional blackmail camp. Or steal the information from her if you can.

Alternately, contact anyone else she might've given the information too: if it's tax info and she has an accountant, go through the accountant to get it. If you're doing this over the phone, say that you're her and you need to verify some information, then ask for what you need. Or maybe contact the state or federal agency she'd have sent that information to and see if you can get copies from them.
posted by NoraReed at 10:57 AM on June 29, 2011


Did you know that you can report people who are not paying their taxes to the IRS? Form 3949-A
posted by meepmeow at 11:05 AM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nanny work, also.. try sittercity.com

But would help to know what documents your mother is refusing to provide and why.
posted by rich at 11:23 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine in college had a similar problem.

Her parents refused to help her with her education after high school and cited that as her own wishes to pursue something they didn't consider necessary. They didn't refuse to submit the paperwork for financial aid, but they weren't giving her any support for it either.

It took a lot of talking and a lot of doing, and proof after the first year that she was filing taxes on her own and was not being declared a dependent on her parents' taxes (which took a lot of family arguments about), but she was eventually able to land financial aid without their information.

But it took a lot of work.

And she still had to take out so much in student loans that her mantra became, "At least there's no longer a debtors' prison."

I'm not saying this will necessarily work for you, but if you are able to become independent and file taxes as an independent, along with arguing long and hard with the financial aid office, you might be able to work this out without the information eventually.

It can happen, but it's rare.

In the meantime, what about going part-time after the fall semester if you wish to stay full-time for Fall? What about dropping down to two classes/semester and picking up a job of some sort to help foot the bill? This may be a longer method, and it may be more expensive in the long run in some ways, but it might be one solution to consider. You may not have to choose school or no school. You might be able to choose school and some steady work.
posted by zizzle at 11:24 AM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


This problem will go away if your school considers you to be an independent student, rather than a dependent of your parents. You need to go to the financial aid office and have them explain what it takes to be considered an independent. Sometimes, all it takes is filing your own taxes -- and you can still do that even though it's past Tax Day for this year, and even if you haven't made money. It also usually happens automatically once you're over a certain age -- at my school I think that age was 25. Also, I think you're considered an independent pretty much anywhere if you are married...
posted by Ashley801 at 12:33 PM on June 29, 2011


Nthing attempting to get a copy of the documents yourself, if you can. Figure out if they're in your house or if there's a copy on file with a government or attorney somewhere that you can get a copy of and use to prepare your own packet of materials. But hopefully you'll come back and shed some more light on what it is you're looking for, and why your mom is being so insane.

Longer term, you need to declare independency and get out of this living situation - ideally not by selling bits of your body just to get from point A to point B. (I'm not against stripping just 'cause, but Felex's comments are spot on here.) Are there jobs you could get at your school that *aren't* through financial aid? Does your school have a career services office, a Dean of Students, or similar? Student Counseling? Don't feel even a hint of guilt about trying to exhaust every single resource available to you as a student right now. And if the person you speak with tells you they can't help you with a given problem, ask them who they recommend you talk to next.
posted by deludingmyself at 1:04 PM on June 29, 2011


Your age is important here as it determines if you are considered to FASA an independent or not. Perhaps your mother is being resistant because although you are considered an "adult" you are not an adult in FASA's eyes and she is not aware of this. How were you able to get financial aid before without this information as I believe it is always required?

I have been in similar "scary" situations with my own college's financial aid office when I got my undergrad degree. This is what I have come to learn about financial aid offices:

*They do an excellent job at expressing urgency when in reality the urgency is due to their poor filing which is "work".
*Your information is routinely lost - because no one wants to actually "work"
*You are annoying to the staff there as every phone call and contact with the office you make will require them to "work".
*Back in the day of snail mail all financial aid documentation came on a Friday when I had to worry all weekend before I could call them on Monday.
*After 3 years of attending my school I found I was actually assigned to my own "financial aid officer" -> find out if you have one.

I'm already registered for the fall and can technically still attend, but since I just declared my major my schedule is out dated and I'd be wasting 4 credit hours on a class I no longer need.

What 4 credit hours are a waste? This summer class? It is not a waste if you are able to drop it.

Are there any options that I'm not considering? The only other thing I can see is taking a year off and hope I don't get selected next year.

Contrary to what the financial aid office may have you believe, it is not terrible to get your financial situation in order and then go back to school. Again, I find it concerning the office allowed you to receive aid without having this documentation provided before. I am starting to wonder if there is fraud involved on their end.

I've thought about taking a job such as stripping since I know a lot of people choose that option, but I'm worried about psychological effects it would have on me in the future.

Please don't do this. This work option is clearly not for you.

If I were in your shoes I would contact my academic adviser, and not the financial aid office to better understand what options I had - dropping out for a period of time, or withdrawing for a year. I would also go to the financial aid office in person (if possible) and speak to a supervisor directly. They are better trained and the office cannot pass you off if you are physically there.

If that doesn't work - go to the Vice President for Student's Affairs office and ask for help. That is what the office is there for and by golly they will help. They did for me once. It is amazing how the financial aid office jumped when the VP got involved.
posted by BuffaloChickenWing at 1:24 PM on June 29, 2011


Please *ignore* the people who say you have to be 25 or married, etc., to be considered an independent student. This is NOT TRUE. I know this from direct experience.

You can be considered an independent student at any time; conversely, your school may decide that marriage and age do not mean you qualify as independent. And your school and FAFSA may disagree about your status. And, while one school may qualify you as independent, another may not.

However, you can and should push your school to accept that you are financially independent. You will need documentation to prove your relationship with your parent(s) is severed. Anything you can provide will help -- your lease for living on your own, affidavits from community organizations who know your situation, if you've supported yourself in the past and filed taxes that show this -- anything like this will support your case. Unfortunately, if you don't have any of this documentation because, say, you're living at home with a parent, you may be out of luck. It really depends on the school and how willing they are to take students' words for what's going on, and help you get the financial resources you need from there.

Additionally, most schools have free career counseling services - get there ASAP. Even if it's advice that will only help you get a McJob, they can point out deficiencies in your resume or interview that may be holding you back.
posted by lesli212 at 1:43 PM on June 29, 2011


clarifying a few things: I live with my Mom and her boyfriend; I just use "parents" to collectively refer to them. Dad isn't in the picture. I'm 20 and was hoping that the degree would help with my problems finding a job and therefore lead to independence, so that's what I meant by dropping out = being stuck living at home. I

The school requested a signed copy of her federal tax return as well as other things; I could pick them up myself but the "signed" part is what trips that plan up. The financial aid office does have a form allowing someone to file for independence because of unusual circumstances, but it also requires documentation from someone other than friends and family which I don't have.

Thanks for the advice so far, more is welcome. Sorry I was unclear in my OP, I'd just gotten off the phone with the financial office again and was pretty distressed.
posted by biochemist at 1:55 PM on June 29, 2011


If you're 20 and living at home, you probably can't be deemed independent for financial aid purposes. This is especially the case if you don't have an income. That's pretty much the opposite of independent. Maybe there's something incredibly unique about your situation that might make it happen, but it does seem unlikely. Since you're a dependent student, your financial aid is based on your parent(s)'s finances. The problem specifically here is why your mom cannot or will not provide the minimal level of assistance of providing you with the necessary documents. That's the one thing you didn't clarify and it's pretty much the most important problem here.

I really only see two possible reasons: she's hiding something from you and/or the IRS or she's refusing to give up the documents because she doesn't want you in college due to some kind of personal hangup we don't know about. If it's the former, I'm sure there are things you could do, and that other mefites and/or the financial aid office, can advise you about to separate your education from your mom's financial decisions. If it's the later, there are ways to work on that problem too. However, it's going to be darn hard to move forward if your mom won't give you the documents and won't even explain why.

Is your mom's boyfriend aware of the situation? What does he say?
posted by zachlipton at 2:37 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


Why can't you get private student loans? Just go to Sallie Mae. You don't go through your school at all, or at least when I did it.
posted by geoff. at 3:48 PM on June 29, 2011


Even if you're desperate, avoid private loans. Don't trap yourself further financially.
posted by patronuscharms at 7:13 PM on June 29, 2011 [2 favorites]


I could pick them up myself but the "signed" part is what trips that plan up.

Can you explain the reasoning that your mother refuses to sign her tax return? She's already submitted it, all the school needs is a signed copy to verify that the information is accurate.

If you're still living with your mom, that means you still have some sort of relationship with her -- that's the path of least resistance. You won't be able to be declared an independent for financial aid, you need to go after the issue with your mother. If you explain that to us, some of the more 'human relations' oriented people will be able to give you advice on navigating that mine field.
posted by Think_Long at 7:40 PM on June 29, 2011


I find it concerning the office allowed you to receive aid without having this documentation provided before. I am starting to wonder if there is fraud involved on their end

That's how it works at all schools. Most people fill out a FAFSA and get aid without providing any tax information at all, and something like 30% get selected for a random audit and have to fill out more paperwork. I have been "randomly audited" both years I have filled out a FAFSA as a low-income independent (married w/ kids) student.

I would send the taxes you can find without the signed part. I am not sure mine were signed when I sent them in, since I did mine online.
posted by kpht at 8:11 PM on June 29, 2011


The signed copy doesn't have to trip you up at all! What they are looking for is a copy of the original signed tax return, not for your Mom to sign anything now. You can only give a photocopy because of course you turn in the original when you do your taxes. You CAN get that from the IRS even if your Mom didn't keep a copy herself, by calling the IRS at 1 800 829-1040 and requesting it. (Press 2 to access tax records, they will need Mom's social security number, Press 6 to request the 2010 tax return transcript, which is form 8050C, then HAVE IT SENT TO THE COLLEGE'S FINANCIAL AID OFFICE DIRECTLY FROM THE IRS. Your college will accept this--they have to, because so many people file electronically nowadays they don't always have a paper copy*.).

I find it concerning the office allowed you to receive aid without having this documentation provided before. I am starting to wonder if there is fraud involved on their end

That's how it works at all schools. Most people fill out a FAFSA and get aid without providing any tax information at all, and something like 30% get selected for a random audit and have to fill out more paperwork. I have been "randomly audited" both years I have filled out a FAFSA as a low-income independent (married w/ kids) student.


Well, that depends. If you are going for certain scholarships, like Bright Futures in Florida, you are now required to have an error-free FAFSA that matches, exactly, your parents' tax return to be eligible.

*You should always, always keep a hard copy of your income tax forms, no matter how you file. You can get audited years later, so keep the copies around for a while, too.
posted by misha at 11:43 PM on June 29, 2011 [1 favorite]


The signed copy doesn't have to trip you up at all! What they are looking for is a copy of the original signed tax return, not for your Mom to sign anything now. You can only give a photocopy because of course you turn in the original when you do your taxes. You CAN get that from the IRS even if your Mom didn't keep a copy herself, by calling the IRS at 1 800 829-1040 and requesting it

FYI - at my institution, we still require a physical signature on the copy or the preparer's Tax ID number to verify that the info is accurate. The Tax transcript from the IRS may or may not suffice.
posted by Think_Long at 5:46 AM on June 30, 2011


An update - I wasn't able to find an alternative payment method but my Mom had a change of heart (not sure why) and we turned in the forms today. Hopefully they won't need more verification and I'll be on my way.
posted by biochemist at 2:36 PM on July 20, 2011


Yay! Best of luck, and I hope everything goes smoothly from now on.
posted by misha at 3:28 PM on July 20, 2011


Financial Aid is in. Crisis averted!
posted by biochemist at 7:09 PM on July 22, 2011 [2 favorites]


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