Sense & Sensitivity by Harriette Cole

Tax Snafu Threatens Student's Financial Aid

DEAR HARRIETTE: I recently applied for financial aid for the 2013 summer and fall semesters. I am currently completing my first semester and have been a good student. I am two-thirds finished with my application process, and all I need is a copy of my taxes.

Here lies the problem: I filed my taxes with a nationally known tax company, and I was informed it would not be able to generate a copy because there was a software glitch during the weeks I filled out my paperwork. I really need the copy to complete my financial aid paperwork; that way, I will not need to apply for a loan.

I called the IRS to see if it could help me. I was told I would have to wait four to six weeks for the IRS databases to update.

I am afraid I will miss registration because I was not able to get my paperwork in time. Please help. -- College Student, New York

DEAR COLLEGE STUDENT: Now is the time to work on your relationships all the way around.

Go to the tax company that you used and find out if you can get a letter explaining the situation and acknowledging that you filed your taxes properly. There may be a chance that you can get some kind of formal letter, even if it isn't the one you ultimately need. Ask the IRS the same thing. What interim document might the IRS be able to provide to prove that you have done due diligence?

Next, go to your school. Do your best to schedule a meeting with the bursar's office to discuss your situation. If you already have your grades, show that you are a student in good academic standing. Show all of the paperwork you have that illustrates your efforts to get your papers in order. Ask for lenience this semester, and show the bursar the notification from the IRS about when you will receive the updated copy.

If none of that works, file for a student loan to cover the costs of the next semester. Once your paperwork is sorted out, hopefully you will not have to do that again.

DEAR HARRIETTE: I went to an event that was all the rage for my industry. It seemed like absolutely everybody was there, except for one former leader in the industry. I thought it was odd that he wasn't present, and I wonder if he knew about it.

I'm not sure how to react. My one thought is to contact him to see if he is OK and to ask him why he didn't attend. Another part of me doesn't want to rub his face in it if for some reason he wasn't invited.

What do you think I should do? I would feel terrible if he was just overlooked and I pointed it out. -- Wondering, Shreveport, La.

DEAR WONDERING: I like the idea of checking in with this person to see if he is OK. You can also tell him that you recently went to the event in question. Tell him it was lovely and that you missed seeing him. He can respond as he sees fit, but in case he didn't know, he will have learned about it from a friend.