If I haven’t already mentioned it, Scott’s son (we refer to him as “The Dude”) lives with us full-time and has since he was 14-years-old making Scott his primary custodial parent. The Dude’s mother lives about an hour away. And since Scott and I were married shortly after The Dude’s 17th birthday last year, I became an official “step-mom.”
Onward and upward, The Dude was accepted and plans to attend a great program at one of the universities within a 12 minute drive from our home. His tuition is going run him about $7500/year (not including books) for four years. Scott and I have been telling and advising him since Grade 9 that if university was his plan, that he best work, save and apply for scholarships because our contribution would be a roof over his head and food on the table; no cash donations coming from here. Both of us believe it’s something, as an adult, he should work for and earn himself. Not to mention, the kid’s got brains galore and could have gone full scholarship with a minimal amount of work…if he wanted…but I digress…
So, since The Dude hasn’t saved any of his pennies, he recently went through the process of applying for a student loan…which brings me to the crux of this post….As a “dependent” student (meaning he will live at home while going to school), his parents have to provide their financial information under the headings Parent 1 and Parent 2. Typically the parental financial information is used to determine if a student even qualifies for a student loan at all. If parents make too much money, kids can have issues qualifying. And parental finances are often used to calculate how much their “contribution” should be; affecting the total qualifying amount (another point I strongly disagree with but shall leave for another rant, another day).
Back to the point of this post….I was shocked and outraged by the new student loan forms. Check this out:
Financial Information: To be considered for all available federal and provincial programs, you are required to provide the amounts showing on the following line numbers of your parent’s 2010 Income Tax Return(s). If your parents are separated or divorced, the parent with whom you normally reside or who supports the majority of your living expenses is considered to be your custodial parent for the purpose of completing this application. Your custodial parent must complete this section. If your custodial parent remarried before you turned 18 years of age, or if your step-parent has legally adopted you, your step-parent’s income tax information is also required.
OK! Tell me this….what does MY FINANCIAL INCOME as The Dude’s step-parent have to do with how much he will qualify for a student loan? The Dude STILL has a biological mother who IS actually financially responsible for him. But, according to the student loan office, because he doesn’t live with her full-time she’s somehow considered OFF the hook and I am ON the hook for her kid because I married his father?
Shouldn’t it be his biological mother and father’s income that is taken into consideration? This is not a boy that I have legally adopted nor do I have any financial or legal responsibility to him in any way, shape or form. So why should my finances matter? Why am I now “Parent 2” on the application form in lieu of his mother? Just because he lives in my house?
Second of all, I must say, I was not comfortable or happy about disclosing my income to my step son. It’s none of his business quite frankly. Coupled with the fact that the split between his parents was NOT amicable and I do not want The Dude’s mother knowing my financial status; again none of her business. I can certainly ask The Dude to keep the deets to himself but….
Adding salt to the wound, there at the bottom it says “indicate any financial support you will receive from your non-custodial parent towards the cost of your study period”. Well now, isn’t that just quaint…his actual mother gets to “let them know” what she’s willing to contribute while they will TELL not only my husband, but now ME, what we are “supposed” to contribute? Wouldn’t you think this would be a more appropriate question for a STEP PARENT to complete? And what about his other step parent – his mother’s husband – so I am on the hook and he isn’t even part of the equation?
And in the end, whether I contribute or not to The Dude’s post secondary education, as my step son, it should be my decision and mine alone. My husband and I don’t mix our finances; we share our living costs but we both work and earn our OWN pennies and we do with them as we each individually see fit.
I am frustrated with the system. I don’t think it’s fair to the students applying. The Dude gets screwed because his father married a woman who makes great money….nice. WTF?
Shouldn’t it be, if any at all, The Dude’s biological parents’ income that is taken into consideration, regardless of which he lives with?
To that point, I am still at a loss why parental income even appears on an ADULT’S student loan application for post secondary education. The Dude is 18 years old. If he wants to go to university, as an adult, isn’t it on him? Will he still be asking for our financial information if he’s 27, living at home doing his Master’s? And, if The Dude didn’t live at home, it would all be a moot point. So what does it matter to the student loan application if he has a parent who is willing to give him a roof over his head or not? Let alone anyone else….step parent, grandparent, aunts and uncles etc…
Do you think parents, and step parents, should be obligated to contribute financially to their children/step children’s university education?
Should step parents’ finances be taken into account affecting how much an adult student can get as a loan?