Marriage

Married for money: These UNC students tied the knot to pay for college – WRAL.com

Summary

Chapel Hill, N.C. — On his wedding day, Owen Conley felt like he was marrying his best friend.

He dressed for the occasion in slacks, a matching tie and a vest. Beau Menard picked out their rings: both silver bands, one with a big shiny rock on top.

They went to the Orange County Magistrate; it was to be a lowkey affair. Two close friends w…….

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— On his wedding day, Owen Conley felt like he was marrying his best friend.

He dressed for the occasion in slacks, a matching tie and a vest. Beau Menard picked out their rings: both silver bands, one with a big shiny rock on top.

They went to the Orange County Magistrate; it was to be a lowkey affair. Two close friends were witnesses. They took a few photos and celebrated in a restaurant after.

They had fun with it, but they put enough effort into appearances to avoid suspicion about the marriage.

Conley and Menard are actually just friends. The rings were from Walmart. The outfits were from a thrift store. The photos were set in front of a dumpster, and the meal was at McDonald’s after the 8 a.m. ceremony on a Monday.

They didn’t get married for love; they got married for money.

In order to qualify for federal financial aid and afford tuition, the two University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill students devised a work-around to eligibility requirements.

For some undergraduates, receiving financial aid for being married is extra income while their parents still support them. For others, it’s the difference between years of debt or a financially secure life.


One month before he was supposed to start classes at UNC-Chapel Hill, Conley’s parents sat him down for a talk.

“We’re not helping you financially anymore,” they said.

They did not have the financial know-how to save up for Conley’s tuition or the credit score to take out loans, and their shame kept them from telling Conley about it sooner. When Conley’s mom was his age, she had been cut off by her parents and paid her way through school. Why couldn’t he do the same?

Conley did not have money to pay tuition or the eligibility to receive financial aid. He took out private loans to pay for his first two years of tuition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which amounted to about $30,000 in debt.

Even though his parents were not contributing any money to his education, he was still a “dependent” for the purposes of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), meaning his aid was calculated based on how much money his parents could theoretically contribute to his education. The FAFSA is a form that determines student eligibility for financial aid.

So, when Conley was 19 he began researching ways to become an independent. That would mean his eligibility for aid would be reviewed regardless of his parents’ financial situation.

The FAFSA asks 10 questions to establish independent status. Among them: “Are you a veteran or currently serving in the U.S. armed forces?” “Do you have …….

Source: https://www.wral.com/married-for-money-these-unc-students-tied-the-knot-to-pay-for-college/19986376/