Question: We have always tithed to our church, and we give money to many charities, so we are thought to have more money available than we actually have. This is NEVER taken into consideration in any financial aid info I have seen. Is there any way to have our substantial donations considered when seeking aid?
Unfortunately, colleges will not officially consider your generosity when calculating financial aid awards. However, it might be helpful nonetheless to compose an explanatory letter to send to finaid offices at your child's college (for current students ... or to all the schools on the list, for prospective ones). Tell the officials exactly what you've told us here. In doing so, follow the Number-One Aid-Appeal Rule, which is to be sure to sound appreciative for any crumb they may deign to toss your way and never entitled to more. At many institutions, the financial aid officials do have some wiggle-room when it comes to determining your bottom line, so it won't hurt to try this approach.
Presumably, if your church has scholarship $$$ available, you have already explored this avenue.