What to Do if Your Parents Won’t Pay for Your Higher Education

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If your parents won’t make their parent contribution toward your higher education, your financial aid package will be less than what you need to go to school.  However, if their household income was less than $24,000 their parent contribution would be zero.

Private Loans or PLUS Loans

You can take out private loans, but you will need a cosigner.    You could ask your parents to take our PLUS loans and promise to make the payments for them.  This may create more debt than you should have.  A rule of thumb is that you shouldn’t take out more in loans than your expected first year salary.

Live at Home, Work, and Go Part Time

If your parents will let you live at home, an option would be to live at home, work, and attend school part time.  If there isn’t a state college or extension classes offered in your community, you should be able to find online classes.


Another option is ROTC.  ROTC will cover your room, board, tuition, and fees as well as providing a living stipend.  Their is a service requirement of four years of active duty and four years in the reserves for the Army, four to five years of active duty for the Navy, and four to six years of active duty for the Air Force (ten years if you’re trained as a pilot).

Qualify for Aid as an Independent Student

You are an independent student for financial aid purposes if:

  1. You will be 24 by December 31st of the current year
  2. You are married or separated
  3. You have children for which you provide more than half of their support
  4. Your parents are deceased
  5. You were in foster care after turning 13
  6. You were a ward or dependent of the court after turning 13
  7. You are an emancipated minor
  8. You are in a legal guardianship determined by the court
  9. You are an unaccompanied minor who is homeless
  10. You are an unaccompanied minor who is self supporting and at risk of being homeless
  11. You are on active duty in the armed services (training doesn’t count)
  12. You are a veteran

Get Help from the College’s Financial Aid Office

Your college’s financial aid office may help talk your parents into paying.  I wrote a post on four ways to scrape up money to pay for your child’s higher education.

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