Caitlyn Ricci sues parents for college tuition

This is like Rachel Canning all over again.

A college student, Caitlyn Ricci, sued her parents in order to have them pony up for college tuition. Headlines are calling her "spoiled," and commenters (why do I even read the comments?) are ripping her apart based on very little information.

Maybe she is spoiled and it was a minor spat that caused her to move out/be thrown out of the house. Maybe there's much more to the story than is being said, simply because it's irrelevant to their particular legal argument. Or maybe it's because she's not the kind to air her family's dirty laundry. I wonder if there's more there than is being said--especially if it's psychological abuse which is so hard to prove to the courts, sometimes.

We just don't know.

Either way, parents are expected to contribute to college. It's the way the government financial aid system is set up, which is so weird. People are considered to be adults, yet when it comes to FAFSA, they're still like children in the eyes of the government. It screws over people who have, well, less than ideal family circumstances. And it screws over people whose parents refuse to help their children because of guerrilla parenting or some such excuse.

I was lucky. Even though my dad didn't contribute to college, I went to a state school and therefore, Stafford loans were enough for me to go to school and use toward purchasing a laptop and textbooks. And I was lucky--I got my dad's tax information for my last FAFSA as an undergraduate before I was disowned. If I was disowned earlier? I suspect that I may have needed to use a lawyer to get that information. I was also lucky--a state school was sufficient for my educational aspirations--I just needed a degree to get into library school.

I don't know what Caitlyn is studying, or why she picked Temple, but maybe that's what she needs for her career plan. And have you looked at their cost of attendance? Especially once you factor in room and board.  Government loans wouldn't cover the whole thing, and private loans are a huge clusterfuck. (never never never take out private loans.)

This is why I suspect she didn't just settle for FAFSA information. She needed more financial assistance...which the government student loan program says her parents should be paying for.

And she lucked out to have grandparents who could afford her legal bills--so she sued her parents, using a section of divorce law for her case.

I never would have had the money to sue like she did. My friends didn't/don't, either.

Which is why I'm glad she did sue. Whether there's more to the story, or whether she is simply spoiled as some say, her case sets precedent for those of us who do have dysfunctional (and by dysfunctional, I mean "fucked up" and not "dysFUNctional") families who are screwing up our abilities to afford and go to college.

That said--her parents were reportedly in the process of filing for emancipation from her. Which I find baffling. It's part of why I suspect there may be  more to the story.

If she had gone with the emancipation route, it would help her with scoring more grants or loans from the government, and then she wouldn't have to worry about having contact with her parents. If her parents were toxic or abusive, going no-contact helps a LOT with mental health and recovery, even when it's painful. However, I suspect she went the suing route because it is hella difficult to change your FAFSA financial story when shit happens. Especially when it's an estrangement case and not, say, somebody dying. And it's hard to change it late in the year, and it's hard to get grant money after all the money has been distributed for the year.

She may have done the calculation and determined that suing would help her in the long run, even if this means having to face down her family in court in the short run.

But these are all assumptions about her situation, which may or may not be true.

The bottom line is that her successful case gives other college students with crappy families lots of hope. If their parents refuse to pay for college, then there is precedent to compel them to contribute.

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