1. Do not self-determine that you are ineligible for any kind of federal, state, or institutional financial aid. Submit all financial aid applications. Check with your college financial aid office for specific application forms and required steps.
2. The FAFSA application can be completed at FAFSA.gov, and it is a free application.
3. The FAFSA will ask for tax information from two years ago, even though you are no longer employed. Go ahead and list your income from the two prior tax years, as required, but later you will file an appeal letter documenting your current financial reality. There is no place to write an appeal on the FAFSA form so you will have to write a separate letter, with documentation to the college financial aid office.
4. If your student was offered a merit scholarship by the school, ask for additional merit scholarship funds due to the loss of income, especially if the student will be attending a public out-of-state institution.
5. Are you separated from your spouse? If so, for FAFSA filing, only include the income of the parent that the dependent child lives with more than half time. You do not have to be legally separated or divorced.
6. You should always shop and compare all federal, state, college, and private loan opportunities. For federal and state loan programs, you will still need to complete a FAFSA.
7. If there are other relatives in the household besides a spouse and children that are dependent on the family and reside in the household such as grandparents, make sure to include them in the total number of dependents in living in the household.
8. If there any health costs not covered by insurance, make sure to list them when you submit your letter of appeal, with documentation.
9. If a parent decides to go back to college, at least half-time, tell the financial aid office. They might consider counting the parent as an additional family member in college possibly resulting in additional financial aid.
10. Run, don’t walk, virtually to the college financial aid office for immediate guidance. Follow-up and follow-through.
1. I just became unemployed and when I submitted my FAFSA back in October, I was told that we didn’t qualify for any need aid assistance. What do I do now?
a. Step One: Go immediately to your college’s financial aid website to see if there are any updates on how to appeal. If there are no updates check to see if any instructions are listed on how to appeal. Some colleges have step-by-step instructions, and some simply do not. Or, call or email the college for advice.
b. Step Two: How to Appeal: Gather all necessary paper documentation that supports your appeal letter. Any type of loss of family income is appealable, as long as you can prove your situation. Even loss of savings can be appealed in addition to unemployment. Make sure to keep a copy of all appeal information and then by certified mail to your college’s financial aid office.
c. Step Three: When to Appeal: Appeal immediately because hundreds, if not thousands of your classmates will be appealing as well. Warning: Do not self-decide if you should appeal. You can’t win if you choose not to appeal, even if you or your family’s income used to be high.
2. How often do appeals get granted?
a. Usually about 30% of the time, but that percentage will be increasing due to the Coronavirus and all its impact.
3. Could I possibly qualify for any other aid, such as state aid?
a. Yes! Check with your state Higher Education Agency and ask how you can appeal for additional need-based funding. Also ask your financial aid office for guidance.
4. I am a grad nursing student and I received some need-based grant funds. Do I follow the same steps you have just described to appeal for additional assistance?
a. Yes, however, you need to appeal directly to the graduate school of nursing financial aid office, not the undergraduate financial aid office.
5. Will appealing for more financial aid reduce my chances of being admitted to my college of choice?
a. No. Every college is trying their best to address students’ needs. The issue will be the amount of additional funding available. Some colleges have large endowments, and some do not. That’s why it is urgent to appeal now!
6. Since it will take time to have my appeal reviewed, is there any other kind of immediate funds assistance? I don’t want to deal with a lot of red tape.
a. The good news is yes! Colleges and universities have historically had emergency funds available for students, but they are not always well-known, nor well-advertised.
b. Today, several schools have made funds available to give to students in the form of one-time grants as the ongoing pandemic has forced thousands of students to leave their campus and cope with financial hardship.b. Today, several schools have made funds available to give to students in the form of one-time grants as the ongoing pandemic has forced thousands of students to leave their campus and cope with financial hardship.
c. Ask your school if it has an emergency loan or grant fund you can apply for, and how you apply. Best to ask the financial aid office for assistance.
7. Even if I have been awarded my maximum amount of financial aid, I can still apply for emergency funds?
a. Yes. An emergency is an emergency. You need funds now. Just remember that emergency funds are limited, so make that call ASAP. Make sure to specify how much you need and how the Coronavirus adversely impacted you.
8. Since I was told by the college that I had to leave campus due to COVID-19, how do I appeal to get my money back for my room and board that I already paid?
a. Great question. It all depends. Every college is handling this issue differently. Some colleges will give students who paid their bill for the spring semester a prorated credit for room and board to be applied for the fall semester. Other schools will allow students to receive a partial refund for the difference in their prorated housing and dining plans. You have to ask the office of on-campus housing how you can get a refund.
9. What can I say to alert I my college that I am financially in trouble?
a. Appeal for additional fund consideration by saying “I will have to drop out!” The reality is, it costs more to recruit a student than it does to retain a student. And schools are all about saving money and helping students.
10. Can I appeal for additional merit scholarship assistance, not based on financial need (my income) or my family’s income?
a. Yes, you can and should. As we wrote in our book, take ownership of the college funding process, either need-based or merit-based.
b. Best way to appeal for additional merit scholarship funds due the pandemic is to appeal directly to the office that awarded you the merit scholarship. For example, most colleges will award merit scholarships from the admissions office if you are a first time undergrad, as in a freshman. The other office to contact would be the office of your major: English, History, Engineering, etc. Review your merit award letter and determine which office or offices gave you your merit award and appeal directly to the awarding authority.
A growing number of nurses and other first responders are living in self- isolation, cut off from the support and affection of their loved ones during the pandemic. To protect their families from the virus, many healthcare providers have been sleeping in basements, campers, hotel rooms, backyard tents, and even in their cars after their shifts instead of returning to the comforts of home. Others, who have no choice but to go home, go through meticulous self-decontamination procedures, stripping off their work clothes in the garage and taking long showers before allowing themselves to have any contact with family—and even those staying at home often use a designated bathroom and sleep in separate bedrooms.
One NP in Missouri,
who has an asthmatic child and immunocompromised husband, “moved
out of her home completely and into her co-worker’s apartment,
leaving behind her husband, their two children and her
mother-in-law,” according to NBC News. And in mid-March,
anesthesiologist Michelle Au, who has been sleeping in the basement
of her family home, told the Guardian,
“There is a sizable portion of people who have already started
self-isolating. They have started sleeping in separate bedrooms,
separate bathrooms.” Asked when she had last seen her parents, one
ED nurse told the Chicago
Tribune, “I don’t know, oh my, God, I can’t even remember.”
themselves from family and friends, healthcare providers on the front
lines of COVID-19 find themselves working without one of the key
sources of emotional support that normally helps protect them from
burnout. As psychiatrist Judith Gold writes in Stat News, “It is no
wonder that the preliminary research on coronavirus in China
showcases high rates of mental health issues, including depression,
anxiety, insomnia, and distress, which are much higher in nurses,
women, and those on the front line.”
What can be done to help nurses and other healthcare providers who are struggling with anxiety, depression, and isolation from the people they love? While the pandemic lasts, experts are seeking ways to maintain the resilience of clinicians on the front lines as they carry on amid the health risks and the physical and emotional wear and tear. The World Health Organization (WHO), in their statement on mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, has issued particular recommendations to hospital managers at this time:
Ensure that good quality communication and accurate information updates are provided to all staff.
Rotate workers from higher-stress to lower-stress functions. Partner inexperienced workers with their more experienced colleagues. The buddy system helps to provide support, monitor stress and reinforce safety procedures.
Ensure that outreach personnel enter the community in pairs.Initiate, encourage and monitor work breaks.
Implement flexible schedules for workers who are directly impacted or have a family member affected by a stressful event.
Ensure that you build in time for colleagues to provide social support to each other.
COVID-19 social isolation measures are designed to make the population safer, but the stresses of isolation can exacerbate the risk of child abuse. How can this pandemic period affect at-risk children, and what can we do about it? DailyNurse asked Dr. Normajean Colby, RN, PhD, CNE, CPN, Coordinator of Pediatric Nursing at Widener University’s School of Nursing, about the concerns of child abuse experts in what she describes as a time of “unprecedented changes… with tens of millions of our nation’s children at home instead of in schools or daycares.”
Why children at risk of abuse are in particular jeopardy now
Dr. Colby: The number of factors that contribute to the risk for
child maltreatment may have potentially increased for families in our
nation. Even where those factors themselves haven’t changed, what
has changed is that parents and children are now isolated together
24/7 and for an undetermined length of time.
Another vital reason that this unprecedented time in our history makes this period a particularly dangerous time for children at risk of abuse is that the eyes that are generally on these children as a safety valve are not present. What I mean by this, is that teachers, daycare workers, Sunday School teachers, coaches, etc., are not seeing these children on a regular basis. When business is as usual, these are individuals in a child’s daily life that can recognize if abuse may be occurring. In fact, during this time, it is expected that the number of child abuse reports will decrease temporarily, but that in no way means that the actual incidence has decreased.
How can we reduce the dangers of child abuse at this time?
Dr. Colby: We need to truly “come together” as has been the
mantra in our nation lately. It is our responsibility to help each
other to successfully get through this period of time. What we can
certainly do is to check on our neighbors and friends, give a phone
call, drop off a note, and connect with others, while maintaining
pediatric healthcare providers, pediatrician offices, daycares, early
intervention programs, etc. we can reach out to the caregivers,
particularly those who may have more of the risk factors that can
contribute to the risk for abuse. Reach out and check in, see how
they are doing, how the kids are doing, and offer an empathetic ear
and ideas for the kids. These folks know the families and have a
relationship often with the families, so reach out!
Also, nurses and healthcare providers are mandated reporters, therefore it is federal law that they report suspected child abuse. The reporter does not have to “prove” such abuse; that task is up to the Child Welfare Agency. But any suspicion of child abuse must be reported. [To make such a report, contact your state child abuse protection agency or call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-422-4453 ]
Dr. Colby: tips for all parents and caregivers to reduce family stresses
Give yourself a break! Keep expectations of yourself as a caregiver and of your child/ren realistic and in check. [many times abusive caregivers have higher expectations for a child, that may even be above their capacity developmentally, and when the child does not live up to that expectation, the caregiver becomes frustrated and that is when physical abuse may be more likely to occur]. It’s OK if there are dishes in the sink, or laundry in the basket. There are really worse scenarios.
When you feel yourself getting frustrated, take a slow deep breath, hold a few seconds, and slowly exhale, then slowly count from ten to one backwards, before you respond or react.
Look for silver linings. Maybe even make it a family activity, before bed or during a meal, ask “What is a good thing about today?” Even if it is a small or silly good thing.
Never ever shake a baby! If the baby is clean, and fed, and seems all right, place the baby in its crib and step away, put on the TV or put headphones on and listen to music, being sure to check on the baby periodically, but never ever shake a baby!
Practice self-care. Get enough sleep, eat healthy if possible, get exercise or incorporate movement into every day, go outside, yoga, meditation, prayer, relaxation techniques, stay connected to others whether email, text, phone, skype/zoom. Turn off the news – you don’t need to be exposed all day long to the news.
Know that you are not alone – Frustration with stress is normal. Childrearing is rewarding, but also can be tiring. If you can connect in some way with other parents/caregivers to share ideas and empathize, across back yards, via phone or technology. Talk to someone you know. Reach out to a healthcare provider or clergy member.
Always remember: children pick up on the anxiety of those adults around them!
“I think caregivers can be disappointed at times,” said Vicki Williford, a
chronic care nurse in Greensboro, North Carolina. “The home health nurse comes
and goes, and [the caregiver] still has another 23 hours to go.”
That’s 23 more hours to make sure the care recipient has taken medication,
avoided falls, eaten healthy meals, and made it to the bathroom in time — all
of which have to be supervised remotely by long-distance caregivers.
All caregivers, regardless of
geographic proximity, are met with tasks that challenge emotions and
resilience, as they work to provide the best possible quality of life for a
loved one in need of support. They may have difficulty accessing clinical
training, balancing caregiving with a full-time job and personal life, and
managing the length and scope of caregiving.
Those supporting a family member
from a distance may experience added stress from coordinating logistics
remotely, without the affirmations of face-to-face interactions from a health
care team and their loved one.
Challenges unique to long-distance
Traveling to and from the care recipient’s home
Using technology to stay in touch
Limited in-person communication with the care recipient
Building provider relationships from afar
Coordinating legal and financial concerns remotely
Planning visits for other family members
Keeping all parties up-to-date
Wavering confidence about choices made for the care recipient
Digital Tools for Long-Distance Caregivers
Some caregivers may find help through digital tools that
make it easier to check in on a care recipient, which can include:
Mobile Apps – For face-to-face communication
Smart Devices — to adjust home temperature or door locks
Wearable Devices — to transmit vitals or call 911 in case of an emergency
Home Cameras — to monitor activity and visitors; for keeping track of medication schedules and deliveries; providing alerts of home break-ins
Keep in mind, not all technology seems user-friendly at first, so it’s important to check in with all parties — including a health care provider — about the level of comfort using new tools.
Being Part of the Health Care Team
Many care recipients have a team of providers, such as nurses, managing
multiple aspects of their treatment. Caregivers can certainly be a part of that
team, even from a distance. That team can also offer support for the caregiver.
“We don’t take over people’s lives,” he said of caregivers. “We work with them to provide support to enhance their lives to be more functional and help them live more the way they want to live.” Both the caregiver and provider need to understand the strains that each party is experiencing, which comes from clear and consistent communication. There are several ways family members can demonstrate to providers they want to be an active participant in a loved one’s care.
Building a Relationship with a Provider Remotely
Identify a member of the family who has the capacity and availability to be granted power of attorney for medical decision-making and communication with the primary provider.
Establish the need for regular check-ins and preferred modes of communication.
Attend appointments when possible. If it’s not possible to be there in-person, try dialing in, or follow up with a phone call to the provider and care recipient.
Keep notes of changes in health or questions about the care recipient’s needs.
Make a list of medications and other treatments in order to support medication adherence and monitor changes in therapies.
Understand that a treatment plan will evolve as the care recipient’s condition changes, and be open to that change.
Williford said it’s common for
families to lack consensus on a treatment plan for a patient with an unexpected
hospitalization, which can make a provider’s job much more difficult.
“Families come in from all these
different states, out of town, and then they’re now faced with: ‘What do we do
with Mom?’” she said. “They’re trying to decide, and yet the mom’s saying to
me, ‘No one asked me what I wanted.’”
Having these conversations as a group can help the care recipient feel that they have agency over their treatment plan and keep everyone on the same page — regardless of what time zone they’re in.
A Taste of One’s Own Medicine
Supporting a loved one from afar involves complicated responsibilities and
constant communication that can prove taxing. It’s common for long-distance
caregivers — especially those with less support — to feel emotionally burned out or exhausted. Being far away from
the care recipient can increase anxiety about a loved one’s wellbeing, and may
be compounded by stress of periodic traveling or lack of sleep for providing
care across different time zones.
Without proper self-care, caregivers may experience caregiver strain, or a feeling of burnout that leaves
individuals unable to perform daily tasks or cope with feelings of anxiety.
“You know you’re experiencing burnout as a caregiver if you’re waking up in the morning with a sense of dread,” said Jacobs.
How to Manage Burnout as a Long-Distance Caregiver
Set a cadence for phone calls.
Make time to self-reflect each day.
Take an inventory of your emotions.
Accept help when it’s offered; ask for help when it’s not.
Utilize a care team on the ground to perform in-person tasks.
Take notes during visits so there’s less to memorize.
Drawing boundaries is one thing;
adhering to them is another. Caregivers have to carve out time to care for
themselves and get the help they need as well. Jacobs said he uses a marathon
as a metaphor for caregiving.
People “need to see this as a long, arduous course for which they need to really take care of themselves along the way,” he said.
“They run past a water station at
mile five and people are waving water bottles at them,” Jacobs said. “That kind
of self-replenishment on a regular basis develops some sort of emotional
Even when distance is not a factor, caregivers are still at high risk of being overwhelmed. In fact, boundaries can be extremely difficult for spousal caregivers in particular, who feel a heightened sense of obligation for their loved one’s well-being. Spousal caregivers are at increased risk for burnout. Many of them — almost one in five — are outlived by their husband or wife, according to a 2018 study published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia. Accepting an offer of assistance, even when it doesn’t seem crucial at the time, can help caretakers sustain the energy and will needed to provide the best quality care, while still finding time to rest and enjoy life with their loved ones.
Resources for Long-Distance Caregivers
Refer to the organizations below for
further reading and resources on how to provide high-quality care for a loved
one, from afar.
We’ve been profiling various nursing specialties so that you can get more information about what the job entails and what education you would need if you’d like to consider that specialty. Next up—Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP).
According to Miranda “Mandy” Wiggins, CRNP, an FNP with
Main Street Family Care in Alabama, FNPs are responsible for patients from
birth to geriatrics as well as all aspects of that care. They provide
comprehensive treatment and see patients for yearly wellness visits, write
prescriptions for them, order any necessary testing, and follow up to review
results of testing.
In addition, Wiggins says, “We are there for them for acute
illness and management of chronic medical issues.”
She admits that one of the biggest challenges in being an FNP is educating patients. Often, patients don’t understand that FNPs can provide many more services than an RN. They think that nurses and FNPs are the same position.
But there are so many more rewards to this job. “I chose
to be a family practitioner so that I could impact as many demographics as
possible in my practice. I enjoy providing care to patients of all ages and
presentations,” says Wiggins. “I enjoy the interaction with the patients and
the involvement of family members to ensure they are being given the best care
in and out of the office. They will remember that you took time to give them
resources and helped plan for their future needs.”
“The greatest reward is most definitely the continuity of
care we are able to provide from our listening and diagnostic skills to
providing follow-up care and establishing a trusting relationship with those
patients. It’s very rewarding to see them improve in their plan of care and to
be able to care for them over a period of years,” she says.
If you’re thinking of becoming an FNP, Wiggins says that the NP program usually takes two years to complete after earning a bachelor’s degree—if the student attends full-time. This timeframe includes a residency program and leadership/professional practice courses. Certification is also a must.
“If you love your patients and have a desire to serve, go for it!” says Wiggins.