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College Talk Blog

Higher education is a family affair

In the beginning of the planning process for college, students sometimes think their relationship with a college is just them and the college. They are surprised to see how much parent involvement occurs in the college process from application to payment processes.
The application process involves parents in several ways. Parent data is required on the application form (unless there are unusual circumstances) and the financial aid form. Data about parents is used to determine residency for tuition purposes as well as eligibility for financial aid.
The relationship between the college and the student includes parents until the student is 23 or until the student is declared independent. An independent student is a student who is married or who is a parent not dependent upon their parents for support.  Sometimes students petition for emancipated minor status with the courts thinking it will make them independent for both residency and tuition purposes. That is rarely sufficient for the college to consider parents out of the picture.
One confounding issue for families is that although students and parents are joined at the hip for domicile and financial aid purposes, the college cannot share student grades with parents without student permission. This seems to contradict the idea that parents are still involved. This contradiction exists because of differences in privacy law and domicile law.

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