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I am disabled and have to live with my family. I don't want to go into detail about my condition.My experience in the public education system here was less than happy, including being used as a pawn to fill roles in programs that needed funding. My education history is confusing, but essentially has left me with no chance to qualify for scholarships.

I've applied for financial aid at a local university. In response, they offer only loans, telling me that I do not qualify for anything else due to being claimed as a dependent. However, a loan would be financial suicide for me. Their disability counselors just shrug their shoulders or basically tell me to go die somewhere.

I've been finishing prerequisites here and there, though most of my learning has been done independently. I can easily test out of these classes (and most of their "graduate" curriculum as well, in fact), but they don't offer credit for doing this.

My parents make a comfortable income, but are not very intelligent with money and getting on in age. They will not be able to support me when they retire. They have to keep claiming me, otherwise I would no longer be classified as disabled and would lose my only pathetic source of income (disability pay requires that I am dependent, or so the SSA tells me).

I want to transfer my credits somewhere and get the hell out, but I'll basically need to be funded entirely by financial aid. What can I do?

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    In the U.S., folks in your situation can apply for "Federal Direct" loans, and options exist for deferred repayment. The idea is to seek out government assistance while you need it (now), and repay them after you've finished your studies (later). – Mad Jack Nov 3 '14 at 17:50
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    What are you applying for financial aid for? Undergraduate? Master's? PhD? – Moriarty Nov 3 '14 at 22:46
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    If you change the tone of your question to less of a rant you are likely to get more, better quality answers. I understand you have had difficulties but you are where you are. So the goal is to find out what you can do with what you've got today. – earthling Nov 4 '14 at 0:47
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This response is US-centric.

It is most unfortunate that the local university was unwilling to provide any kind of financial aid except for loans. However, this need not spell the end of your academic journey. Here are several avenues you should explore before giving up.

  • Begin your higher education journey at a community college. They offer lower tuition rates than almost any other institution is able to do.

  • Apply for federal financial aid using the free FAFSA application.

  • Investigate other financial assistance and scholarship opportunities. As a disabled person, you should be eligible for various scholarships. There are various free scholarship websites which will permit you to find scholarships suited to your specific situation and interests. Scholarships.com and Scholarship Experts are among my favorites, but there are many other free services available, including this comprehensive list of external scholarships provided gratis by the University of Phoenix.

  • Make friends of the folks in the financial aid office. They are usually more than happy to walk you through the process of applying for federal, state, and local financial aid and may help you find other sources you hadn't considered or were unaware of.

  • Find out where the community college Foundation Office (or similar office) is located and make a special effort to meet these people. Their job is to match students with sponsors and the rewards for your efforts can be substantial. (For example, they once put in my application for a scholarship I didn't know existed, and gave me half-a-semester's worth of tuition without any effort on my part!)

  • Finally, contact a counsellor or other mental health professional. Depression is a serious illness. Get help!

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Your problem is that you did not get enough financial aid from your local university. I think the solution is to apply to some other institutions. Many institutions think it is important to help students with disabilities. If you look around, you can find one that 1. Cares. 2. Has money to do something. 3. Has time to consider special cases. I suggest applying to smaller higher educational institutions because they are better able to adjust to special cases.

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