Wasatch Savage: A marriage of convenience

The average student loan debt of a college graduate in the U.S. was $35,200 in 2013. If you’re an average college student, you probably worry about where money for tuition is going to come from. Tuition is a tough topic to address, but let’s do this.

Last year I moved out of my parents’ home, worked full-time and filed independently on my tax returns. I was under the impression that this meant I would be considered independent on my Free Application for Federal Student Aid as well, but alas, I was wrong. Until you are 24 years old, you must file your FAFSA with your parents’ income. The American Student Assistance organization stated, “If you are under 24 years old and not a veteran, a ward of the court, an orphan, a graduate student, married, or have dependents of your own, then the school has no choice but to treat you as a dependent for financial aid purposes. This means that they cannot calculate your eligibility without your parents’ financial information, nor can the federal government.”

This goes under the assumption that your parents should and will help you pay for your college, while in reality most parents cannot afford to fork out the amount of money it would take to send their kids through college.

So let’s talk alternatives. You could work yourself to the bone every semester. But you’re independent; you’re already paying for rent, utilities, a car payment and the basic necessities of life. Is adding several thousand dollars to your bills really a possibility while trying to maintain good grades in your classes? The pay-as-you-go theory is one that oftentimes ends with students getting burnt out on college and taking a break from it altogether.

There is one way for your independence to be recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and remove your parents’ income from your FAFSA at the same time, and that’s marriage. Yeah, I’m talking about the financial benefits that accompany marriage. Sure, the concept of getting married for financial reasons seems a couple centuries old, but hey, there is no law that states a marriage must be based on love.

According to DailyFinance, it is perfectly legal to marry someone for the purpose of obtaining college financial aid or gaining in-state tuition residency.

This is what many people like to call a marriage of convenience. It is strongly suggested that anyone entering into a marriage of convenience obtains a strong prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage. While it may cost a couple thousand dollars for a prenup, the amount some students will save greatly overshadows the initial fees.

Essentially, a marriage is the only way to remove your parents’ income from your FAFSA before the age of 24, even if you file your taxes as an independent. For the FAFSA independent status, two people must be legally married and no longer be listed as dependents on their parents’ tax forms. Only under these circumstances will two students be given a greater opportunity to lower their costs of college.

Many people may believe this is wrong, but what I believe to be wrong is graduating college in a massive hole of debt.

Until next time, Wildcats, stay savage.