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Financial Aid for Homeschoolers?


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As I plan my daughter's 9th grade year, I'm doing general research at a variety of colleges, just to get a sense of their admission requirements. I happened to be on the Oberlin website, reading up on their requirements for homeschoolers, and saw this note at the bottom of this page (click the drop-down menu for "Homeschooled Applicants"): 

Financial Aid

We meet 100% of the demonstrated financial need for all admitted students. However, your status as a home schooled student may affect your eligibility for Federal financial aid. Home schooled applicants are eligible to receive Federal Student Aid funds if their secondary school education was in a home school that state law treats as a home or private school. Some states issue a secondary school completion credential to home schoolers. If this is the case in the state where the student was home schooled, they must obtain this credential in order to be eligible for Federal Student Aid funds. For further assistance please contact the Office of Financial Aid...

Have you ever seen anything like this before? It's the first time I've ever encountered anything suggesting that homeschoolers are treated differently when it comes to financial aid. (I'm not even clear what credential they're referring to?) Would love to hear from anyone who has more information/experience. Thank you!

 

 

Edited by EKT
Edited to fix link.
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We're in Florida, I homeschool through the county, I had no problem with financial aid for my son. He even got a scholarship through the school that he went to And the scholarship through this state.  At the end  of his home schooling we had to sign an Affidavit of completion. 

 

I was just really closely check the State requirements. I think that might be old when they didn't completely recognize homeschoolers as private education. Possibly call that school and find out what they talking about. I would consider very carefully whether I would apply to that school or not.

 

 

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First, if this is a CA or NY community college or university, both of those states have some tricky hoops to jump.

However, I see by your link this is Oberlin College and Conservatory in OH, that focuses on Music, and has a student population of under 3000. I am completely unfamiliar with them, so being extra small, and being focused heavily on Music, they may have very limited financial aid to hand out, and this may be their way of limiting who gets aid... ???

Or, it may be as the previous poster suggests -- very old information that has not been updated. And absolutely, the best way to find out what they really mean is to contact both the admissions office and the financial aid office at Oberlin.

My GUESS (lol) at translating their statement:

1. "meet 100% of demonstrated NEED"
Need is determined by this equation: COA - EFC = Need.
COA = the total Cost Of Attendance at the school
EFC  = Estimated Family Contribution; this is determined by filling out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). This number represents what the gov't believes your family should be able to contribute towards the student's college (whether you really can or not). When you subtract the EFC number from the COA, the remainder is your demonstrated Need. Colleges offer Financial Aid Packages that are a combination of LOANS, grants, and scholarships to cover a portion of the student's demonstrated Need. This college says it will cover 100% of that Need through what it offers in the Financial Aid Package. Again, be aware that those Financial Aid Packages include LOANS -- it is NOT an offer to guarantee covering Need with free money of Federal grants & school scholarships. (Note: Federal Financial Aid is distributed through each individual college's financial aid office.)

2. " Home schooled applicants are eligible to receive Federal Student Aid funds if their secondary school education was in a home school that state law treats as a home or private school." 
I don't quite see what they are driving at here, unless this is some strange concern about pandemic "homeschoolers"... What it *sounds* like is that they are looking for confirmation that you followed your state's homeschool regulations. And if you have followed your state's homeschool regulations, then just be sure to add a statement to that effect on your transcript: "Home schooled in accordance with state education regulations __(insert state revised statute # about homeschooling)___." and sign on a line next to that as the administrator who is affirming the validity of the statement.

3. "Some states issue a secondary school completion credential to home schoolers."
Perhaps this is an oblique way of asking for proof that the student IS a high school graduate??? This sounds like Oberlin thinks that some states award diplomas to home school students. As far as I know, no state does this. Perhaps this refers to states that require periodic portfolio evaluations and the letters from the educator who did the evaluating or the district supervisor, signing off that the portfolio passed evaluation...???

4. "If this is the case in the state where the student was home schooled, they must obtain this credential in order to be eligible for Federal Student Aid funds." 
I am not sure that a college can legally withhold Federal Financial Aid from students who are applying to college. Those are not the college's personal funds to withhold from distribution...

Edited by Lori D.
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Oberlin is in Ohio, and pretty competitive. It might be old language they've forgotten is on the page.

I think they are basically referring to New York and California. I would call if it's a school you're interested in attending. 

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Thanks so much for the replies! We are in Ohio as well (not NY or CA), so I just had never heard of anything like this. (If we ever do end up applying, I would certainly call and get further clarification.) But I mostly wanted to get a sense from the board veterans if this sort of note was common. I have not seem similar statements anywhere else and thought it was so weird. Appreciate the feedback!!

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Could they mean they want to see the final letter from your public school district's superintendent as proof that you followed Ohio homeschooling regulations?   

 

Per the Ohio Revised Code:

3313.6110 Diploma granted by parent or guardian.

(A) A person who has completed the final year of instruction at home, as authorized under section 3321.04 of the Revised Code, and has successfully fulfilled the high school curriculum applicable to that person may be granted a high school diploma by the person's parent, guardian, or other person having charge or care of a child, as defined in division (A)(1) of section 3321.01 of the Revised Code.

(B) Beginning with diplomas issued on or after July 1, 2015, each diploma granted under division (A) of this section shall be accompanied by the official letter of excuse issued by the district superintendent for the student's final year of home education.

(C) A person who has graduated from a nonchartered nonpublic school in Ohio and who has successfully fulfilled that school's high school curriculum may be granted a high school diploma by the governing authority of that school.

(D) Notwithstanding anything in the Revised Code to the contrary, a diploma granted under this section shall serve as proof of the successful completion of that person's applicable high school curriculum and satisfactory to fulfill any legal requirement to show such proof.

 

 

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I think Sherry is right--it is vital you get that final "excusal from compulsory attendance" letter from the local school district. I keep hearing from friends that they need it for the common app and for various applications.

IF for some reason you are reporting as an 08 school (private school) and not an individual homeschooler, your paperwork is different. Unfortunately I know nothing about 08 schools but I know some homeschoolers report that way in Ohio.

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14 hours ago, EKT said:

if their secondary school education was in a home school that state law treats as a home or private school.

 

 

In Texas, state law considers home schools private schools.  I don't need to sign anything certifying anything.  I set my own graduation requirements and issue my own diploma.

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4 hours ago, Sherry in OH said:

Could they mean they want to see the final letter from your public school district's superintendent as proof that you followed Ohio homeschooling regulations?   

 

Per the Ohio Revised Code:

3313.6110 Diploma granted by parent or guardian.

(A) A person who has completed the final year of instruction at home, as authorized under section 3321.04 of the Revised Code, and has successfully fulfilled the high school curriculum applicable to that person may be granted a high school diploma by the person's parent, guardian, or other person having charge or care of a child, as defined in division (A)(1) of section 3321.01 of the Revised Code.

(B) Beginning with diplomas issued on or after July 1, 2015, each diploma granted under division (A) of this section shall be accompanied by the official letter of excuse issued by the district superintendent for the student's final year of home education.

(C) A person who has graduated from a nonchartered nonpublic school in Ohio and who has successfully fulfilled that school's high school curriculum may be granted a high school diploma by the governing authority of that school.

(D) Notwithstanding anything in the Revised Code to the contrary, a diploma granted under this section shall serve as proof of the successful completion of that person's applicable high school curriculum and satisfactory to fulfill any legal requirement to show such proof.

 

 

Oh, this would make more sense! I certainly file the superintendent's letter carefully, and it would be very easy to submit it with the other application paperwork. You're probably correct--thank you!

(Again, when the time comes, I will obviously call to clarify on details like these, but I wish the wording wasn't so unnecessarily confusing in the first place!)

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4 hours ago, cintinative said:

I think Sherry is right--it is vital you get that final "excusal from compulsory attendance" letter from the local school district. I keep hearing from friends that they need it for the common app and for various applications.

IF for some reason you are reporting as an 08 school (private school) and not an individual homeschooler, your paperwork is different. Unfortunately I know nothing about 08 schools but I know some homeschoolers report that way in Ohio.

Thank you for this! Yes, I definitely hold on to the superintendent letter, so I will be sure to make a note that I'll definitely need it for applications, etc. So helpful, thanks!

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Two of mine were/are at Oberlin, homeschooled all the way through - they didn't ask for anything more than a final transcript/portfolio.  One was at the Conservatory (about 500 students) and one at the College (about 2300 students).  We didn't have any extra hoops to jump through for financial aid other than the FAFSA and CSS.   I agree with Lori "Font of Infinite Knowledge" D, that wording seems aimed at NY and CA homeschoolers.

A new question will be what they (and other colleges) ask for instead of SAT 2 tests - formerly required for homeschoolers applying to the College but not the Conservatory.

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I didn't realize Ohio was another state that issues a letter of some sort of compliance. Sigh. At least they recognize that it's not something everyone will have, unlike the majority of colleges in NY where they think everything is exactly like New York does it. 

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1 hour ago, Farrar said:

I didn't realize Ohio was another state that issues a letter of some sort of compliance. Sigh. At least they recognize that it's not something everyone will have, unlike the majority of colleges in NY where they think everything is exactly like New York does it. 

Yeah, it's a little weird for me, too. (We moved to Ohio a year ago after almost a decade of homeschooling in Maryland, so I'm still getting used to the state-to-state differences.) But on the plus side, it's ultimately pretty simple; in Ohio, the school district sends a letter at the beginning of the year basically saying, "We have you on the books as homeschoolers and you are excused from attending public school." So, I'm hoping that's what Oberlin is referring to. But like I said in my OP, the Oberlin site made me freak out a little bit because I thought I had somehow missed something major (the mystery "credential" they're referring to). The wording is just unnecessarily confusing.

As I've been doing my research, it seems clear that a lot of colleges don't fully understand homeschooling in general. One site I visited said they accept homeschool transcripts, but that these transcripts would ideally come from an accredited distance-learning school of some kind and I just thought: Okaaaay--yeah, a school-in-a-box distance learning program through an accredited institution is one method of homeschooling, but it's hardly an accurate picture of the approach most homeschoolers take! And it certainly doesn't maximize the educational potential of homeschooling. So yeah...the colleges' lack of understanding is pretty frustrating. As far as I've read, homeschooled students (if we can make generalizations about such a diverse group) typically excel at college, so you'd think the schools would be more educated/aware about us. 

Edited by EKT
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Thankfully, I hear more "happy ending" stories about colleges that don't really understand homeschooling, so it will very likely end well.

It just may mean you need to be making more phone calls and doing a bit of extra paperwork to make sure you are getting everything to the school for admissions that they require. ;) 

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Yeah, I've had conversations with admissions reps who did not understand that homeschooling does not mean using an online school. But like Lori said, the vast majority of these things end up fine. And there are lots of admissions offices who specifically have a homeschool rep now who reads all the homeschool applications. So if you're making general inquiries or talking to your regional rep and get weird information or pure ignorance, it doesn't necessarily mean the school itself doesn't get homeschoolers - it may just mean that they've specially allocated resources and therefore your regional rep or the general folks know even less.

Edited by Farrar
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2 hours ago, Lori D. said:

Thankfully, I hear more "happy ending" stories about colleges that don't really understand homeschooling, so it will very likely end well.

It just may mean you need to be making more phone calls and doing a bit of extra paperwork to make sure you are getting everything to the school for admissions that they require. 😉

That is very encouraging to hear!! 

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5 hours ago, Farrar said:

Yeah, I've had conversations with admissions reps who did not understand that homeschooling does not mean using an online school. But like Lori said, the vast majority of these things end up fine. And there are lots of admissions offices who specifically have a homeschool rep now who reads all the homeschool applications. So if you're making general inquiries or talking to your regional rep and get weird information or pure ignorance, it doesn't necessarily mean the school itself doesn't get homeschoolers - it may just mean that they've specially allocated resources and therefore your regional rep or the general folks know even less.

This is very helpful information, thank you!!

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On 2/8/2021 at 1:57 PM, Farrar said:

Yeah, I've had conversations with admissions reps who did not understand that homeschooling does not mean using an online school. But like Lori said, the vast majority of these things end up fine. And there are lots of admissions offices who specifically have a homeschool rep now who reads all the homeschool applications. So if you're making general inquiries or talking to your regional rep and get weird information or pure ignorance, it doesn't necessarily mean the school itself doesn't get homeschoolers - it may just mean that they've specially allocated resources and therefore your regional rep or the general folks know even less.

I try to remember that many admissions officers are quite young and not only don't have experience with homeschooling, but may not have any reason to know that homeschooling in Virginia, Hawaii, and Alabama has different laws, access, and paperwork. I try to lean toward patiently explaining rather than going directly to my argumentative mode.

Edited by Sebastian (a lady)
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My homeschooled son applied to Oberlin and was accepted with a very generous FA package (he went somewhere else), and he gets federal financial aid....Oberlin is, in our experience, plenty homeschooler friendly (I remember they did want slightly more than most schools in that they asked for some kind of portfolio--we put together a few papers, lab reports, etc. and called it good--but it wasn't anything arduous); I think this is just a disclaimer type thing letting you know it's not their fault if you don't get federal aid because you didn't follow the rules of your state (we're in Georgia, which has very few rules wrt homeschooling)

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