Many students feel that going to college is a rite of passage. As children, they spent the requisite years fantasizing about that great East or West Coast institution with a wonderful arts and entertainment program. Some imagine themselves excelling in an environment that has an outstanding and renowned sports department. Every report card is another step toward that goal of finally reaching the promised land.

Then, that fateful day arrives when an acceptance letter confirms or denies all those hopes, dreams and aspirations. Mom and Dad are usually glad to pick up the tab; an education lessens the probability that their little bundle of joy will be returning home and eating them out of house and home. Besides, most parents want their kids to have the best possible head start in life. An education will surely buy them that.

But what happens when Mom and Dad decide they’ve had enough? After the age of 18, there’s no law that requires a parent to assist their child financially. For some parents, forcing their teenagers to fend for themselves is a way to encourage character building. For others, it can be a choice predicated on economic difficulties. And unfortunately, there are the mothers and fathers who turn their backs simply out of spite. Nevertheless, the student can maintain the upper hand and come out victorious with a little bit of planning.

First things first: Seek counseling. Shouldering a new set of responsibilities is not something one can do without feeling a touch resentful. A downsized lifestyle is something that many people are afforded the opportunity to transition into, not do overnight at the whim of another.

College campuses across the United States offer student counseling services that are free of charge in many cases. Sessions can be with other students who are completing their practicum (psychiatric residency) or with a certified or licensed professional who may be able to shed light and optimism on a dark situation.

For faith-based assistance, a local church or member of the clergy can be a good person to consult. They may even advocate on behalf of a recently cash-strapped student, calling upon his or her congregation to help in times of need. Getting objective advice on a tough situation often leads to clearer decision-making.

Next, a game plan is needed. Make a budget of monthly expenses. Keep in mind that those lattes and nights spent hanging out at the local brewery are also very much a part of the daily routine. File these items under “miscellaneous.”

Once a realistic number has been determined, think of constructive ways to cut back. Making a small investment in a coffee maker, bagged grounds and flavored creamer can erase the need for a $5 trip to Starbucks or Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Selling a car and investing in a scooter can eradicate the nightmare of pricey car payments.

If a personal budget has no wiggle room, that’s OK. There are plenty of loans and grants that allow for cost of living. Pell grants are loans that do not require a student to repay the money awarded to them. They are issued by the federal government and awarded based on need. A quick trip to financial services or to can get you started.

In the event that bad financial news arrives mid-semester and the cost of tuition is simply too high, don’t despair. There are plenty of outstanding online and distance-learning programs that provide an excellent education at a fraction of the cost. Schools such as Stanford and UCLA offer professional certifications that look great on a resume without the cost associated with regular attendance. Since the 1990s, professionals and young people have been taking to the Internet for better academic bargains. This shift has nearly eradicated the negative stigma of an online education.

Finally, don’t get mad. Get even. Lead the best, most productive life possible without allowing finances to dictate happiness. With a little creativity and regrouping, anyone can arise victorious from bad news. Besides, one day down the road, your mom and dad may need YOU for something. Karma could swing back in your direction, leaving you with the upper hand. What you do with that opportunity is up to you.