It would be very easy to assume that the burden of the college admission process lies firmly on the shoulders of the student applying. After all, these young adults will generally have opted to continue their education and will, therefore, be fully responsible for the next step, right? Surely there is no parent role in transcripts for college? Well, while this may be the case for some students who have taken this decision themselves, and are applying while trying to work out how to afford college without parents help, many will be leaning on their parents for help with the application, as well as the financial support that will come later. Some parents will be feeling more stress than their children at this trying time in their child’s development.
So, what (if any) is the parent’s role in college admissions? For some the role of a parent will be simply as support. Offering encouragement to their child and being there to proofread will always be a benefit in easing the burden.
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Submission of information will vary from college to college. It is important that parents check what information they will be expected to submit. A general expectation from many colleges will be that the parents of applicants provide one or two completed financial aid documents. Some colleges will only request one, which will usually be the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Students dependant on their parents will be asked to provide information for themselves as well as their parents. Aside from the FAFSA, the CSS Profile is an online application used by almost 400 colleges for financial aid. Students fill this out and will submit their own financial information as well as that of their parent/s.
The parental information required for the above forms is usually as follows:
- Parents’ Social Security Number
- Parents’ most recent federal income tax returns and W-2s, in addition to any other record/s of money earned.
- Parents’ bank statements, including any records of investment/s.
- Parents’ records of untaxed income (if applicable).
FAFSA offers information to students who feel that they may qualify as a non-dependent on their parents. For such students, the information they provide on the FAFSA will be their own only.
Students should have realistic expectations of their parents’ ability to make a contribution, and are recommended to apply for financial assistance even if they feel that their parents may earn too much money. It is noted that sometimes a student’s understanding of aid may be incorrect and they may miss out on aid that they are entitled to.
How much a parent is involved in their child’s education after they start college will vary from household to household. Many colleges consider their students family to be a part of their campus community, running programs for parents, as well as having accommodation for their visits. Many parents will follow their child’s wishes and be as involved or distance as they are requested to be. Many are simply happy that their child has fulfilled their hopes of seeing them in college and will settle for whatever input they are allowed to have throughout their child’s college years.
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