Is FAFSA broken for Amish youth?

As I mentioned in an earlier blogpost, it’s hard for former Amish youth under the age of 24 to get Financial Aid. That’s because in order to fill out a FAFSA, students also have to fill in their parents’ information because parents are deemed responsible to help their children pay for education until they are 24 (or get married and have children). I came across this article about the same topic. They even mention the Amish situation, see quoted below.

“If you are Amish and have been shunned or banished because of your desire to seek an education and as a result no longer have any contact with your family, provide a signed statement to this effect to the financial aid administrator. Some financial aid administrators will do a dependency status override in this case.”

The thing that frustrates me about that statement is that the student must “no longer have any contact” with their family. Even though I left the Amish community when I was 16, I have always stayed in contact with my family and I’m certain I always will. However, my parents did not help me by filling out the FAFSA because they didn’t agree with my choice to continue studying.

I understand completely why this law is in effect; it’s only fair that parents who have significant income should help pay for their children’s education. Those who don’t have a high income can fill out the FAFSA form and not jeopardize their children’s chance of getting financial aid, because it’s based in income levels. However, the system seems to fail for Amish youth who are striving for an education. It’s just another obstacle withholding support from those who need it most. If anyone has further information on how they can override this law without completely losing contact with their families, please let us know.

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