July 19, 2000 ~ Bloody Paperwork
I was going to be a good girl this year. I was going to get my aid done RIGHT AWAY. I was going to fill out all of the confusing forms as soon as possible so that I could pay for school. I checked my mailbox eagerly every day, waiting for the FAFSA form. It didn't come.
A month later I asked Financial Aid about it. "Actually, your mother should be receiving it."
Oh. Okay. Called Mom. "Nope. Haven't seen anything."
Oh. Okay. Called Mom again a month later. "Nope."
Oh. Okay. Right. The government has just forgotten that I exist is all. No problem. I went to the Financial Aid office again. "What should I do?"
"Your mother should be receiving the form."
"She hasn't received it."
"Oh. Maybe you should fill out a new one." This is MONTHS after the date. I got a new form, and spent a few days looking for my tax info, in the middle of trying to move. I filled out the form and sent it next day air to my mother. She was a sweetheart and filled it out that night and sent it off to the FAFSA people the next day.
A week goes by. Two. I check with the Financial Aid people. "We haven't received anything. Here, call this automatic number."
I call. "I'm sorry, no records match your query," says the mechanical voice. I wait. Four weeks. To Financial Aid. They know me by my first name now. "We'll let you know, Melissa."
I wait. Finally, a note appears in my box. I tear open the envelope, my stomach in knots. "Verification." I have been chosen for verification. I run to financial aid. "What do I need to give you?" I make frantic copies. I send frantic emails and voice mail messages to my mother. I fax her everything in a rush. I turn it all in to financial aid.
I check back the next day. "Do you have everything you need?"
"I'm sorry, but your mother didn't sign on the signature line of her tax return."
"But that's her signature there!"
"I'm sorry, but it needs to be on the signature line."
"But she did her taxes by telefile, and the telefile form is signed."
"Well she sent us this tax form, and it's not signed."
Great. Bloody marvelous. I call my mom. "But I sent them the signed telefile. I sent that other form just to help them out. I didn't have to."
"Well, they want it signed."
Sigh. She faxes them a signed copy.
I check back a week later. "I'm sorry, we haven't come to your file yet."
And a week after that. "We should be on it soon."
Today, I get a letter in my box from the Financial Aid Office. My heart starts to flutter. An award letter. It has to be. I start to get excited as I rip it open. "The Financial Aid Office requires the following..."
I stormed up to the office. "What, exactly, is an asset form, and didn't I already turn one of those in, and why wasn't this mentioned two weeks ago?"
"Yes, but it was for your mother's assets. We need your stepfather's assets as well. Along with his tax returns. I was looking through your forms the other day, and I noticed that we had not received a tax form from your stepfather."
"Well... My form said he had zero income... He didn't have a tax return."
"Before we can process your aid, we need to have a tax return and an asset sheet for your stepfather. If he did not have a tax return, then we need a signed statement from him that says he did not have any income, and why he did not file taxes. If he can prove that he did not have any income, then we can proceed with your aid."
I called mom again tonight. She said he might not be able to provide any of that. She will fill out the asset sheet, but she doesn't know about the tax return.
Great. Bloody wonderful. So if he CAN'T produce the proper paperwork, I CAN'T get any aid. If I CAN'T get any aid, then I can't go to school here. Period. I can NOT afford 18,000 dollars. At all. I work my BUTT off over sixty hours a week just to get by WITH aid.
Dammit. Dammit, Dammit, DAMMIT!!
Now tell me. Does anyone else see it as a little screwed up that, even though my parents have not paid a single DIME of my education since I started college, even though I have been supporting myself for the last three years, it is THEIR income on which my aid is based?
Even though they are not going to pay a single bit of my education, I have to kill myself trying to work out all of their tax information when none of their income will be going toward my aid? This is *$@^! Screwed up. The whole system is.
I just want a bloody education, and I have been working myself to the bone in order to get one. Now I may not be able to get that education anyway due to some bloody paperwork?!? I have worked so hard, but not a bit of it matters if I do not get my aid. My bill was due over a week ago.
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