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Kathy:  I have a child who is in her first semester of college. She had a 504 plan and an EEP in high school. Her university’s Student Disabilities Office has approved all her accommodations, including a reduced course load. For her, 9 hours, not 12, would be full time. Financial Aid does not recognize this and if she drops to 9 hours she will lose several scholarships and grants she was awarded. Has anyone ever had to deal with a situation like this?

  1. Same thing happened to us. Her FAFSA aid would have been virtually gone, her college financial aid gone, though we were told we could appeal to get a little of it reinstated, and she did not even qualify for a dorm-room, all because the reduced course load the dean recommended makes her, in the eyes of the government, a part-time student. In short, this badly-needed accommodation would have cost us about 17k a year.

    • I know some colleges that have mini courses over school breaks. Many athletes use such courses as they have reduced course loads during their demanding athletic seasons. Many students with LD’s use these mini courses to accommodate the reduced course loads. There are ways around this depending on the school. Ask the staff at the disabilities student services and financial aid office how do they accommodate athletes whose schedules are reduced. Coaches and deans are very creative when it comes to accommodating athletes — some are also LD and need the reduced course load. Bottom line, ask the questions and dig a bit deeper as they will most likely accommodate and work with you.

  2. Your daughter’s reduced course load should NOT make her ineligibly for financial aid.

    Her federal financial aid package should be prorated based on the amount of credits she will be working towards (i.e. she should receive 75% of the award). State, college-based, and private aid sources must also accommodate (unless they’re religious), but may not necessarily prorate their award.

    This is a fairly common accommodation. It may be that the college’s financial aid office is unfamiliar with it and simply needs a little prodding. But if you reach an impasse, the US DOE’s Student Aid office or their Office of Civil Rights may be of help.

    I also strongly suggest that your daughter connect with your state’s vocational rehabilitation agency.

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