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What can I do? I am an independent student, who the universities I apply to refuse to recognize as independent?

Loveland, OH |

I grew up in a home where multiple felonies were routinely committed, it was extraordinarily unusual given that I am white. But it is what it is, and at the age of 16 - I left for sanity and safety's sake. Ever since then every University I have tried to attend has refused to allow my application for independent status - the latest instance came as a shock (they originally showed no indication that they wouldn't) - suddenly they audited me, froze my funds (including my veteran's benefits) and are now billing me hefty interest on those frozen funds (including, again my veteran's benefits that I was unaware could even legally be frozen). I'm not a mean person, and I understand that for most whites it's true - they are not independent. But the hell I grew up in is the reason I am, and will be

Attorney Answers 4

Posted

This student may wish to talk to a debtor's rights attorney. For more immediate relief this student should speak to and write whoever made this decision concerning the "independent" status and become familiarized with the financial aid department's definition of "independent". It sounds as if the student is running into a formula or regulatory problem. Find out what the appeals process is.

Good Luck

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1 comment

Asker

Posted

I appreciate your comment! Unfortunately we contributors are limited to only a few words. I have been working on this for several months, and the definition of independent status has been my primary focus. I have the federal regulations regarding it, as well as explicit categories spelled out in them. Per these guidelines, which my school mirrors perfectly, I do fall under such a category for the reasons stated above (veteran, abusive home life) - reasons which typically are reserved for protected minority groups. Your comment gives me some reassurance - I have no legal experience and have been approaching this from the perspective of what they require, what I can do to accommodate that, etc.

Posted

It is certainly worth your while, given the amount of money at stake, to consult a lawyer familiar with financial aid regulations and/or dealing with bureaucracies. Toning down your racist attitude wouldn't hurt either.

Disclaimer: exchange of information on this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.

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2 lawyers agree

Posted

If you are talking about state schools, they are subject to legislative definitions and have no discretion. The definitions have nothing to do with assumptions by the school or anyone else about your color, background, or the circumstances of your early family life.

It is your responsibility to research and understand your state's standards for defining persons/students not under the control of parents. If you do not qualify for the existing definition, you can (for a very small fee) bring a petition in court and have yourself declared emancipated. There may be tax status issues at work here or even custody orders or support orders that can be at issue and complicate matters. But, in the end, there is a way to affirmatively and legally claim the status of independence. Your post does not recite that you have undertaken any of those measures. Get with the legal program and quit relying on the easy assertion that you are special because you are a white person with a background that YOU believe is a badge typical of other races.

You need to do what it takes to get this solved, as spelled out here, because you have a specific need for the enhanced vision and judgment that higher education will inevitably cause.

No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. That relationship is established only by joint execution of a written agreement for legal services. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. Send me an email to schedule a paid Consultation for that kind of information, direction, and assistance. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

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Posted

This link from the FAFSA bureaucrats may be if assistance. You should try the steps it suggests. There is no process in Ohio to petition a court to become emancipated.

For informational purposes only; not intended to, and does not, constitute legal advice or a legal opinion.

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5 comments

Deborah Zaccaro Hoffman

Deborah Zaccaro Hoffman

Posted

Here is the link: http://www.fastweb.com/financial-aid/articles/699-fafsa-and-the-independent-student

Christine C McCall

Christine C McCall

Posted

From the Ohio School Boards Association (http://www.ohioschoolboards.org/sites/default/files/OSBAEmanciatedFactSheet.pdf) "Emancipated minors are students under the age of 18 who are independent from their parents or other legal guardian. The concept of emancipation in the law literally means that a parent has released their claim to the services and earnings of their minor child. Practically speaking, it means that a minor is no longer under the physical custody and control of his or her parents, and the child is responsible for his or her own support. It is presumed that a minor who resides with his or her parents is presumed not emancipated. ... Emancipation of a minor is a common law doctrine. Emancipation may occur by an event or be inferred from a student’s circumstances. For example, minors may become emancipated through marriage or by enlisting in the military. Additionally, if a parent allows a child to move out, become employed, and support him or herself, emancipation may occur by inference."

Deborah Zaccaro Hoffman

Deborah Zaccaro Hoffman

Posted

As correctly pointed out, for purposes of support marriage or military service can emancipate a minor in Ohio. If the asker is a minor and the FAFSA board will accept Ohio's definition, those may be options. Here is more detail on Ohio law written by a local magistrate: https://www.ohiobar.org/forpublic/resources/lawyoucanuse/pages/lawyoucanuse-255.aspx.

Asker

Posted

Ms. Hoffman, thank you for these insightful comments. Unfortunately the problem I am facing is opinion based - I have shown countless times for months now that I was abused (the felonies are on file, and I went to the court house to get them all), and also that I left at 17. The individual handling my case simply refuses to accept it - I have literally produced dozens of documents over four months and each time they simply request a new set. I've asked multiple times for the complete set they would like - and each time I produce it, each document always supporting what I am saying, and each time they say "I'll need more." I am at the end of my rope and need more legal advice. Without parents, they have to know they have me over the coals here and I don't know what to do, legally speaking.

Asker

Posted

I appreciate your inputs, and hope that you can assist me in guiding me in the right direction. I am not a lawyer, and have limited experience and knowledge of these situations especially due to my situation (no parents). FAFSA also has a second list, which I have fulfilled a hundred times over (mild understatement - dozens of documents). Is there any way to talk directly to FAFSA, or to a third party?

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