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Job loss complicates plans for families to pay for college

Jalyn White of Virginia Beach is a bright student who has been accepted to Spelman College, but the sudden loss of her mother's job will make it hard to afford.

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — High school educator Lavell White and his wife Adia had to have a tough conversation with their daughter, Jalyn. 

Adia lost her job as a marketing professional due to the coronavirus crisis.

"That was a tough conversation to have, tears were shed... you know the uncertainty of everything moving forward," said White.

Suddenly the White family didn't know if they could afford Jalyn's education at Spelman College in Atlanta. The honor student has been accepted and hopes to study theater and biology.

"I just want to have fun in college. I want to hunker down on academics but theater has always been my creative outlet."

As the coronavirus ushered in the unexpected, White immediately thought of the organization that helped him when he was a high school student: the Access College Foundation.

"I really had to ask during this time who could help us and Access was a no brainer," said White, who is also a former Access advisor and scholar.

Access has counselors in 33 schools across South Hampton Roads and the Eastern Shore. The foundation has been a giant in helping families navigate the financial aid process and providing college admissions counseling.

"We were able to help Lavell and Jalyn and the family prepare a letter requesting from Spelman and also a local college, Old Dominion -- where she had also applied and been accepted -- to ask them for their professional judgment to change their expected family contribution because of this drastic drop in income," said Access CEO, Bonnie Sutton. 

Sutton said for families who have already submitted their financial aid forms, only the college their child plans to attend can make a change to the family contribution. Access worked with the Whites to get that process started.

"Now they have something they can process, they say can say, 'OK, you were one of the first, so let me go ahead and handle this one first.' And that really is the way it works in the financial aid world."

Jalyn has over a 4.1 grade point average and hopes to one day become an orthopedic surgeon. She says the uncertainty of the future is sad and scary but she's holding on to optimism.

For more information on the Access College Foundation, click here.

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