Well this was a jolly pain in my ass. Applying for government stuff is tricky when you know you’ve not got a penny coming to you, yet you have to fill out everything with the intent of being able to survive, and yet don’t want to enter int he wrong thing and some how get caught in the web of Fraud.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not doing anything worthy of the word Fraud, but the way things are worded, it’s easy to get confused and do something wrong. In fact, I’ve already screwed up mildly when trying to enter in my job searches for unemployment. I’m pretty certain that based on that, I have to wait another two weeks before I get my first installment of $188.
Since I’m coming into school during the spring quarter at the end of the school year, I had to apply for the 2013/2014 FAFSA year (Free Application of Federal Student Aid), which threw me off since I had to enter in my tax information from 2012. I was getting so frustrated by it all that I wanted to throw the computer out my window and Hulk it all the way to Olympia to ask what the hell I was going wrong that it wasn’t letting me enter in my information correctly. Of course, then I realized that when it was asking if I had filed my taxes, it was referring to my 2012 taxes, not my 2013 taxes. Once I realized that, it was smooth(er) sailing.
I was advised by the financial adviser at the college to apply for the 2014/2015 FAFSA now so that all my ducks would be in a row for the summer quarter.
So, let’s look at what I have encountered so far:
With my income from 2012, it said that I am eligible for $2,3something for a Pell Grant, and that I can get Direct Stafford Loan for $9,500. To my understanding, this is per year (but I could be wrong). So for the entirety of one quarter of this year, I qualify for the possibility for $2.3K.
However, now that I have done my application for the 2014/2015, and I am unemployed at the moment, it is saying that I can qualify for a Pell Grant of up to $1,595, and the Direct Stafford Loan of $9,500.
If I am correct in my understanding that these amounts are meant to be per school year, I am essentially receiving 277% more for one quarter, than I am for the entire upcoming year….my math might be horrendously faulty. It has been about ten years since my last math class, and I’m too scared to take the math placement test at the moment to see how well my math skills have been preserved.
Then we get into the unemployment aspect of it.
While I would really really like to dedicate all my focus into school, I still have to keep searching for a job. The only way I can get unemployment while still in school is three ways:
- Keep looking while being able to [falsely] be open and available 100% of the time (which would be a lie since I would be restricted by my schooling)
- Get a part time job, but still be looking to apply for another job which would combine the two jobs to be full time hours (which also is seemingly a nix in the works, since if I have a part time job, doesn’t that limit my availability?)
- Go to school for a form of training that they deem acceptable. This mean something along the lines of what I was doing (if I was working as a line cook, going to school to be a chef, or if I was in landscaping, going to school to do welding..or something). Of course, I was a barista, so really the only thing that I could go to school to enhance what I was doing would really be business.
What the finance guidance guy told me was that the degree I’m going after is an extremely good degree to have, and it can get me a lot of different jobs. However, it’s not viewed that way in society, nor is it viewed that way via the government. So, I definitely have to go for option 1, but he’ll help me with that. This guy was pretty helpful!
Then there’s food stamps.
I love food stamps – for one pure and simple reason (you know, aside from the obvious): you can buy things to grow with food assistance. This means, fruit trees, squash plants – anything that is edible. I love this idea because if used correctly, you can essentially start your garden with food stamps, and then save the seeds, and grow your own food the following year, thus, in theory, negating the need for food stamps.
However, with the way the laws have changed and all these government cut-backs and the like, I’m not really sure if you can do that any more.
The last time I applied for food stamps was when my work cut down my hours to 10 a week. I was currently enrolled in a long distance study program, but I wasn’t actually attending classes. My mother had paid for my courses up front, so I wasn’t relying on any funding from the government. However, they told me that because I was a student, I had to work at least 20 hours a week in order to qualify for food stamps.
How much sense does that make???
Prior to that, I had applied because it had been recommended to me, when I was working full time, 37 hours a week, but was having trouble keeping up with bills. I applied just to find out what would happen. And they rewarded me with food stamps – a good amount too! $180! And I was working full time and not trying to further my education. Tell me how that makes sense??
Hopefully that aspect has changed as well, and I will be allotted enough to survive on (no, I won’t be doing my own gardening. I don’t have a good location, nor funds for pots and soil to create a garden at this time).
I will say this: the government really does not support a person getting their education outside of high school. I really think you have to prove your determination. Hopefully it won’t be such an up-hill battle in the future.
Filing for taxes next year is not going to be pretty. I can feel a temper-tantrum brewing this time next year.