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Hi Terry, I will be able to provide some of the common pathways a college graduate and graduate student can take to hopefully smooth the road more for her.
Depending on the type of loans your daughter has, it would probably be a good idea to consolidate them so you/she is not forced to pay them. Many consolidations base required payments off of income so if she isn't working or is still completing her graduate degree she will not be weighed down by the payments. Nelnet(.com) is a popular consolidation site that puts all of your information together once you source the information on each individual loan. You can do this for her if its easier.The next information I would obtain is what kind of financial aid she is eligible for by completely her FAFSA found at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/ . This website provides information of any student loans available through her school that should allow her to retrieve enough money to complete her degree, then when coupled with her consolidations upon graduating should make paying them back relatively easy to understand and cope with.
The next choice would be to research scholarship opportunities and any available grants for her based on the major she is in but also her GPA and academic standings. General students are rewarded with grant and scholarship opportunities if they excel and perform well during undergraduate studies. This would be as simple as contacting her department at school and seeing what scholarships are available, finding out their requirements and having your daughter apply. Grants are typically the same way, you see what would be a correct and appropriate "fit", then apply.
As far as helping her with guidance while around campus and in her community, there should at the very least be an on campus community(sometimes through the school itself) to basically befriend your daughter but giving her the appropriate guidance and help to ensure each day is structured as needed(or whatever would benefit her). I went to a larger SUNY school and could recall a myriad of programs designed to assist students whether it be with academics, language barriers, scheduling conflicts, or even things as simple as daily organization or housing assistance. There should at the very least be a contact at her school that should be able to put you in contact with a group or department that specializes in helping students with autism. Most schools want all of their students to succeed, the hardest part usually is just finding those departments on campus.
Does this provide the assistance you were looking for? Most schools are set up to help all student succeed, unfortunately some schools make it a little difficult to realize all the "busy work" involved to make it so.
Hi Terry i see you have joined the chat. Let me know your thoughts once you have read through my responses
Adults with Autism in the State where she attends school do not typically receive support unless a resident of that State, then must be severe. At best she would have to find a private individual to pay them, which adds another budget line item. Not to mention retesting has to be done every three years which is expensive, and a great deal of wear and tear on the individual tested as testing tools that show the individual what a 'failure; they are - call attention to 'disability' in the person being tested as a severe demoralizing experience. Our daughter at age 4 was given a test where she had to form block reproductions of patterns the tester set up for her to copy. She wanted to look at the stop watch being used, tester would not let her, so instead of making the exact same pattern daughter reversed the two colors in each pattern present, there fore scoring '0' on the test. After two hours of testing my daughter said 'home now' - for her at that time to put together more than two words was a major accomplishment! A third grade teacher once saw my daughter put together a puzzle that non of her very gifted children could put together in less than 1 minute (one of those 'tricky' ones for supper intelligent) and said can you do that again. and She did. Later I asked her how she did it so quickly and she said I know how to feel the pieces and make a smooth match - easy - I did not share she also has a progressive eye disease that at that age was out of control so much of her young life she had poor vision. Now it is not normal, but she is not considered blind - accept is when ever her floaters get stuck in the middle of her eyes when a floater storm is triggered by bright lights in rooms, or the sun or a computer screen. The SUNY system is pretty good, however one intrinsic difficulty discovered/ experienced by our daughter has been a high level of disability discrimination her entire educational experience. She has heard reachers say 'kids like her graduate with attendance diplomas, you can't take an AP course, kids like you don't do that, she was one of the first students with her disability 'mainstreamed' in elementary school, the negative experiences she and others with disabilities that she witnessed over the years is deplorable.
I think the major separating factors from what she may have heard someone say and the fact about her is she really is a high performing individual despite being a student with autism. Graduating summa cum laude is no easy task. What county is her school in? and what other avenues have you tried in getting her appropriate assistance otherwise?
We know about consolidation, of course the school wants her to succeed, but they have told her they are embarrassed they cannot offer her the support she needs and deserves (that was last year, she received some support in the form of a TA and has done a great deal of work for the support she receives, which of course helps increase her life skills, as well as musician skills (she is in high demand as a collaborative musician, and also gives to the community as much as she can using her talents), and that she must depend on finding more loans, she qualifies for max on the FAFSA, but that does not cover the cost of the school. We have a small amount left in her college fund and she is evengingly distributing that over her four semesters. while her ethic background is mixed she is more white than anything so no EOP scholarships, because she is not labeled blind does not qualify to apply to scholarships in this area. She is working, but the pay is not enough..
She sounds like a tremendous individual. Have you looked into private loan procurement(through possible local banks and credit unions) to supplement her work and any other aid she has maxed out?Does she not qualify for loans related to academic performance or performance arts, perhaps from her undergraduate degree?
Similar to large non-profit organizations I believe there are programs for college students that need financial support that would otherwise benefit from additional suppport, when in a situation like your daughters have exhausted much of the immediate support
Has she exhausted all her grants and scholarships for performing arts? Even those which are not dependent on DLA for qualification?