I live in Houston, a place you've probably seen on the news this week thanks to Hurricane Harvey. I'm fine, and my family's fine, and amazingly my house is fine. But I've been a little preoccupied this week and don't have a big long blog post. That should return next week.
But what I do have is some advice for students--especially seniors--who also live down here in the Gulf area of Texas and Louisiana. If you're still currently without power or in a shelter someplace, then I don't expect you're reading this yet, and I wish you well. A lot of people are trying really hard to help, and they're not going to stop.
But maybe you're out of the most direct danger and wondering what this means for your financial aid. Maybe, on top of the distress of 20 trillion or so gallons of water being poured on our area and entire neighborhoods being destroyed, you've realized that what's going to help your family get through this is spending your college savings on something other than college.
If that's the case, there are a few things to remember. And again, I get how tough it is to deal with this on top of everything else, but this may be helpful.
Even though costs associated with this won't show up in the 2016 tax returns that are probably the ones that count the most for your financial aid package, you can still get schools to take this into account. According to the Federal Student Aid web site: "The financial aid office at your college or career school is authorized to use professional judgment in order to more accurately reflect the financial need of students and families affected by a disaster. If you feel that your eligibility for aid was impacted by the disaster, you should contact the financial aid office at your school to ask for a re-assessment of eligibility."
If you're not already at a school, but are applying to schools, do the same. As soon as you send an application, also contact that school's financial aid office. Let them know that your family experienced a natural disaster that has affected your finances, and ask what you can do to have that reflected in your aid package.
As with any situation where you're hoping to get more aid because of a special situation, the more evidence and detail you have the better. I know that you probably can't keep a receipt for every little thing you spend over the next month--especially if you're out of your home--but remind your family and yourself regularly that the more paperwork you can hold on to documenting how expensive this is for you, the more financial aid you may qualify for next year.
And if you're getting aid right now--or soon--because of this catastrophe, please know that it won't be used against you when it comes time for financial aid. Again, this is directly from the Federal Student Aid site: "If you received any special aid from the federal government or from your state, for the purpose of providing financial relief, it should not be counted as income, other resources, or other financial assistance when determining your eligibility for federal student aid."
Please take care of yourselves out there.
Thanks for reading, and thank you so much for all the outpouring of love and help for our area. Please share this with any high school student you know--especially seniors--in an area hit by this or any other natural disaster. You can follow Apply with Sanity on Facebook and/or Twitter.