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Maura in NY

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Everything posted by Maura in NY

  1. DS got the same letter, made the same call, got the same confirmation that it does not affect his scholarship because it is merit based. I'm wondering if it's the same school... I drafted up a letter to the school because I'm so annoyed by this, even though it is unlikely to impact him. Not sure if I'm going to send it--I'll have to tone it down a bit first... What is particularly pernicious is that the letter he received said that FEDERAL financial aid would be unavailable to students who go either the superintendent's letter or the 5-Regents route, unless they took the TASC. As far as I know, this is completely untrue, unless there has been some dramatic and secretive change that no one's heard anything about. (Oh, and this exam is over 7 hours long, BTW.) Here's my rant as it stands right now (that's as far as I got before I was too spittin' mad to continue.) ​ Hi Deborah, My son Brody received a letter from Alfred today concerning financial aid eligibility for homeschoolers in New York State. While I was able to verify with Admissions that this will not impact Brody's Excellence in Education Scholarship because ​it is merit aid, not financial aid, I would still like to clarify the reason for the change. As an experienced homeschooler, I am often asked for advice by other homeschooling families, and I want to be sure I give them correct information. On the New York State ​Higher Education ​Services​ website, it is explicitly stated that​: ​"​A home-schooled student is eligible for state aid if they have a letter from the District Superintendent, or the student can take and pass an approved ATB test or the TASC test.​" ​ Reference: https://www.hesc.ny.gov/partner-access/financial-aid-professionals/grants-and-scholarships-questions-and-answers/grants-and-scholarships-ability-to-benefit-questions-and-answers.html I understand that it's possible this information has changed and the website has not been updated, and to be honest, I have never researched this too deeply because my sons would not qualify for New York State TAP or other programs.. If this is the case, and there has been some change to the official position of the the New York State Education Department, I would appreciate it if you could direct me to the appropriate materials so that I can share them with other homeschooling families who are working to make the best educational and financial decisions for their students. In terms of federal financial aid, unless there has been a change since April of last year, the information provided in the letter is incorrect, and if so, is a considerable disservice to families. Federal requirements for student eligibility for financial aid are spelled out clearly in Title 20 Education §1092 (d), and clarified in Volume 1, Chapter 1 of the 2015-16 FSA Handbook: http://ifap.ed.gov/fsahandbook/attachments/1516Vol1Ch1.pdf On page 4 of this document, it states that a student is eligible to receive Federal Student Aid if the student: • has completed homeschooling at the secondary level as defined by state law; or • has completed secondary school education in a homeschool setting which qualifies for an exemption from compulsory attendance requirements under state law, if state law does not require a homeschooled student to receive a credential for their education. A student may self-certify on the FAFSA that he has received a high school diploma or high school equivalency certificate or that he has completed secondary school through homeschooling as defined by state law. This same information is available on the federal government's financial aid website: https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/eligibility/basic-criteria​ and in this letter from the United States Department of Education: ​ http://ifap.ed.gov/dpcletters/GEN1209.html (available on the Information for Financial Aid Professionals section of the US Dept. of Ed website) ​I know that not every homeschooler has a list of test scores to support their academic background, and colleges like Alfred can and should use whatever criteria they deem necessary to ascertain whether a student is a good fit for their school. But when it comes to providing information about financial aid, the federal government does not require "proof" of homeschooling beyond parental certification. Unless something has changed in the last twelve months, neither the "5 Regents" option nor the Superintedent's Letter option disqualify a student from receiving financial aid. Homeschool students are not the same as high school dropouts, and the federal government recognizes this difference--and as far as I can tell, so does New York. ​
  2. Has anyone used the UCA? Do you have experience with the CA to compare the two? My understanding is that the UCA is a good choice in general -- But I don't know if that holds true for homeschoolers. We're torn between the devil we know, which was a royal pain, and the devil we don't, which is reputed to be less convoluted, Thoughts? Thanks, Maura
  3. If any New Yorkers are interested in the letter I sent to the superintendent for ds #1, I'd be happy to send it to you. We have a pretty friendly district, but I do think we may have been the first to request the letter. I sent my request in the fall of his senior year, asking that they let me know if there was anything they would need from us in order to provide the letter in the spring. (YES - keep copies of everything! Backup your backups.) Rather than be confrontational, I laid out the regs and why it was a no-brainer for them to provide the letter. I basically quoted Section 3.47(A) of the Rules of the Board of Regents along with the NYSED Q&A question 35.
  4. Nan -- the other key phrase they are looking for is that you have homeschooled in accordance with your state regulations. Thanks for the kind words, folks. Blushing here. I really just wrote the letter so I could stop gripping about the unfairness and move on.
  5. Original thread here -- http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/546625-umass-amherst-transcripts-anyone-have-a-success-story/ And my follow-up, as promised: The director of admissions at UMass Amherst responded to my letter on behalf of the chancellor, and said that after reading my letter "it is clear we need to undertake a review of how we evaluate and select homeschooled students like your son." They are willing to accept the "letter of substantially equivalent education" from our district superintendent in lieu of an official transcript or GED. So, a win for us. And hopefully a win for future homeschool applicants to UMass Amherst, if they revise their requirements. We left it up to Brody whether we keep them on the list, and he says yes, so the visit is back on. I honestly did not think I would get a response to my letter...I'm glad my cynicism was misplaced. Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts on this. Peace, Maura
  6. The law was clarified in favor of homeschoolers. The student (Paul Owens, in case you want to Google it) got his degree, and out of that case NY homeschoolers now have 5 ways to meet state school requirements. (GED, 24 specific college credits which can be earned while matriculated, letter from the superintendent attesting to a substantially equivalent education, passing 5 specific NYS high school tests called Regents exams, or an accredited diploma.) Unfortunately, not all the state schools know these rules, and some STILL give students a hard time.
  7. Nan, that was just where I stood -- I didn't want him to turn down his other opportunities and keep his fingers crossed -- only to find out that it was the GED or nothing. Actually, there was a case like (where a matriculated student at a CC was ready to graduate, when he was told he couldn't) that got the law clarified here in NY.
  8. Wow, Nan. It sounds like you are right. Until someone decides to get lawyers involved, they won't budge. We've moved on and are done trying to get ds accepted, but I've written a letter that I will send to the director of admissions, the chancellor of the university, the dean of the college he was accepted to, and the dean of the honors college. Just on principle. I don't really expect a response, but I'll let post if I hear anything back. We're not rolling over. I'm not going to open the argument about the GED -- the real question is WHY? What does it prove that they don't already know about the student?
  9. I think that rather than take any chances, when we visit or before, we are going to ask directly who will be determining whether the final transcript is acceptable. And then we will ask that person for an explanation/definition of an "official transcript from a homeschooling association or agency." If we feel we can provide what they are requiring, we will ask them to confirm that definition in writing. Sound like a plan? I'm fairly certain that their rules all boil down to misinformation about the federal law concerning homeschoolers and federal aid. I'm just surprised that no one has taken them to task for it yet to get the rules changed.
  10. Wow - Nobody? No homeschoolers at UMass? Or only umbrella school and GED entries?
  11. I will get the letter from the superintendent without a problem. (We've been down this road before with the first son, so we know.) But in my earlier emails with UMass, that letter is meaningless to them.
  12. My son was accepted to UMass Amherst with my mommy transcript, (brag alert -- with merit scholarship & Honors College offer) but there is a page in the acceptance folder with the dreaded requirement for an official transcript from our district (not happening in NY) or homeschool association or agency. (Yes, I know about the GED option. Let's not open that discussion here.) As far as I can tell, the word "association" does not have a specific legal meaning, and in previous email and phone call discussions with admissions, I got the sense of a nudge-nudge, wink-wink, "Isn't there SOME association that can help you?" So, my plan is to create a more generic school-y looking transcript and have it authorized by the homeschooling support group we have belonged to for 14 years. The are a legal entity (for insurance purposes), with a board, guidelines, etc. The president & vice president have known my son since he was 4. I would really just like to hear that someone else has been successful getting past the UMass gate keepers with a similar transcript. My worst case scenario would be that ds chooses this school, tells all the others "thanks, but no thanks", and then in July he's told he can't go. Anyone? Thanks, Maura
  13. Skreader, that NOFA link is great. I don't know how I missed that one. Elisabet1, he is interested in farming itself -- muddy boots and dirt under the fingernails. This is not an office kid.
  14. Just a follow-up -- Banjo Boy found a job with a young farmer who has been sustainably farming 50 acres since he was 18 (10 years). It seems like a good fit and a good test to see if the romance outlives the hard work. Thanks again for the advice.
  15. Wow, thanks for all your thoughts! Many of the places you've mentioned are on our research lists (really hoping to get to Polyface this year...) He's working to find somewhere to work this summer and through his senior year -- either a greenhouse or small farm. I know there are many great programs out on the west coast, so I should have mentioned that he's inclined to stay east of the Mississippi.
  16. My 17 yo is considering majoring in sustainable ag. His "farming" experience to date is his backyard vegetable garden and a bee-keeping course. His interests lie in small scale, farm-to-table agriculture. I'm looking for any and all experience related to this potential career, and specifically feedback on possible colleges. (We have a looonngg list but nothing has risen to the top yet.) Thanks, Maura
  17. There are soooo many resources for self-learners available free online. It would help if you told us specifically what subjects you're think about.
  18. In full agreement with the general consensus here. I addressed this on my "Homeschooling Statement" for the Common App as follows: As the Honors designation is used primarily as a way of establishing a course hierarchy within a school, it is not applicable in our homeschool setting. While no classes are designated as Honors, the choice of materials and the quantity of reading required for most courses would merit the label in many schools (see Course Descriptions and Reading List). (Someone told me the Homeschooling Philosophy portion of the Common App has gone away -- say it isn't so!)
  19. Here's the 16 yo banjo boy's schedule: AP Language & Comp (PAHS) Precalculus (Foerster) German 3 (Komm Mit! & Kaleidoscop) AP Physics AB (PAHS) US History (at home, using Brief American Pageant and Sage American History) Hoping to do something with Shakespeare & friends (our friends, not the Bard's :laugh: ) TaeKwonDo 2x a week, jam with band 1 or 2x per week, banjo lessons every other week, volleyball weekly, pottery classes 8x/spring and 8x/fall, and youth group social & service stuff. We'd love it if he could get a job for 10-15 hours a week, too.
  20. My advice -- "you" being the couple, not you, Janice :) Don't rush with the academics. "School" is just one part of homeschooling -- it's really a lifestyle, a way to be, as a family. Enjoy being with your children and watching them learn. Take your time, and find out how they learn best, and what motivates them. Of course you'll want to match your curriculum choices with your goals for your children, but do what you can to match to their interests and learning styles, too. Avoid the comparison game. The sooner you can detach from thinking of how they do it in "real school", the better. If I had it to do over again, the one thing I would do differently is to keep the early years full of more fun and adventure, and less book work until 7th or 8th grade. I would have focused more on family structure before school needed to become structured. (In other words, family & household responsibilities first, then school responsibilities.) And enjoy the awesome adventure.
  21. It's interesting to note that AP US Gov & Politics can be offered over 1 semester or a full year. When taken over a full year, it's considered one of the easiest AP's, and in fact, probably doable for most 9th graders who can handle the writing portion (or practice for it throughout the year -- This isn't actually essay writing. Basically, it's fully answering the question in complete sentences, providing as many examples, etc. as requested. No points lost for spelling or grammar, no need for a topic sentence, etc. Speed and neat handwriting are a plus). I'm not suggesting that the AP is the best route, but my thought was that there are so many prepared syllabi out there for US Gov't that you could find one to follow along, whether you did it at an AP level or not. Pretty much the only difference would be the "essay" prep for the FRQs, and some test bank practice in the spring.
  22. I'm curious, Lizzie -- Have you seen Joss Whedon's Much Ado -- Rated PG-13? I went with friends and a group of teens, all Shakespeare & Whedon fans -- and we (at least all 3 adults, and most of the teens...) were pretty darn uncomfortable with the sex. I guess you can show anything, as long as there isn't skin exposed. (Whedon himself calls it "the sexiest thing I've ever done, and that includes having sex.") I talked to the teens about it afterward, comparing it with the much loved Brannagh/Thompson version, which has much more nudity -- but is much more innocent, if that makes sense.
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