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The College Solution: A Guide for Everyone Looking for the Right School at the Right Price, Second Edition by Lynn O’Shaughnessy

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14. Appealing the Verdict

What the (financial aid) formula tries to do is put everyone in square boxes, pin them to a grid, and say: This is how much money you need to go to college. So what the appeals process does is it allows the families to explain why they’re not square.

—Maureen McRae, Occidental College’s director of financial aid

If you were a college financial aid administrator, would you give a teenager whose parents had racked up big gambling losses a bigger aid package?

That’s the dilemma that faced the financial aid appeals committee at Occidental College in Los Angeles, which reviewed an appeal from a teenager whose parents are addicted gamblers. Her mom and dad’s gambling winnings, the young woman wrote in a letter, inflated the ...

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