Paying for College

The FAFSA Made Easy

I have written here before about being the parent of two college graduates. I write this post today for the benefit of you parents (and high school juniors) who will be dealing with the college process this fall.

One of the main memories I have as a college Dad is what it took every year to handle the seeming deluge of financial aid paperwork necessary to anticipate each college year. I recall telling parents that for me it was like doing long-form income taxes every year almost three times. Why was that?


The forms! Let’s see, there’s the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid), the not free CSS (College Scholarship Service) Profile, plus the various college-specific aid forms.  The last two of those three are usually required by private colleges. The FAFSA is required by all colleges offering financial aid, although there may be exceptions, as with everything these days.

 

Today, I would like to mention a new resource that could make your venture into FAFSA City more enjoyable than mine was, when I had to use the old trial-and-error approach. So, if you’re anticipating, perhaps with dread, this particular phase of the college process, this help may alleviate some of the stress coming your way.

I get tons of notices from college-related enterprises that want me to mention their products or services. Of course, the mission of Admit This! is not commercial. My goal is to provide as much insight as possible into the ever more complex college process, using my experience as a veteran college parent and my finger, which is on the pulse of higher education developments. Yesterday, I received a message from College Choice (a dot-Net site), which is an information resource that both students and parents may find useful. Their free offering inspired me to mention it.

The topic of the message was Free: A Guide to the FAFSA. I found that to be good timing because I was planning on doing a post about the paperwork aspect of financial aid.  Part of the text says:

Applying to college, waiting for acceptance letters, and comparing financial aid packages is stressful enough. Adding the FAFSA on top of all that can make a college education seem even more inaccessible—including for those students whom the FAFSA is especially supposed to help.

We’ve seen it before, and that’s why College Choice has put together a guide to the FAFSA here: http://www.collegechoice.net/financial-aid/fafsa-application/

It’s all free, and we’re just hoping that our guide will reduce the stress levels of students and their parents as they try to figure out the college process. That’s because even as tuition costs rise, getting a degree can still make a serious impact on lifetime earnings—just check out the graph below: [click to enlarge]

When you check out that link above, you will find some quite interesting insights about the FAFSA. That can be important for those of you who have never managed a financial aid form before. If you’re apprehensive about getting started, these reassuring words that greet you will help:

The words “Financial Aid” are enough to send chills down the spine of any potential college student or parent because people think that the process for applying for aid is time-consuming and bureaucratic. They aren’t wrong.

Here at College Choice, we’ve made this efficient, streamlined tutorial for navigating your FAFSA app. With our guide, you’ll cut your application time in half and complete it stress-free because you’ll know what’s coming and exactly what to do on the app—no learning as you go!

 

On this page you will find:

– Checklists for what you’ll need to have at the ready and step-by-step pics of the process

– Tricks for protecting your own savings accounts and other financial assets

– A list of common mistakes that people make which often cost more funding

– Simple ways to determine your qualification and dependency status

– So, let’s have a go at it and you all the information you need to assess your eligibility for federal aid, traverse the app, and get your funding.

Pour that coffee, take a seat, and let’s get this F-A-F-S-A done N-O-W!

 

The tutorial then proceeds to offer a step-by-step guide through the form, with main sections addressing:

– What is FAFSA?

– How can I predict the aid I’ll get?

– Grants and scholarships

– Work Study

– Student Loans

– Additional resources

– How do I apply for FAFSA?

– Am I dependent or independent?

– Do I qualify for FAFSA?

– The FAFSA step-by-step

– What are the new changes to FAFSA this year?

– FAFSA and asset management

– What can get me more FAFSA money?

 

Yikes. That is comprehensive!

Perhaps the most helpful part of this detailed guide is “The FAFSA step-by-step.” In that section you’ll see very helpful text and illustrations of what to expect while negotiating the FAFSA site.

If I had had access to a tool like this when I was grinding through the financial aid process (eight times!), I wouldn’t have looked at it like a knee-replacement operation each of those years. Accordingly, thanks to College Choice, you don’t have to suffer the agonies of the FAFSA process unarmed. Take a look at their comprehensive help guide and get ready to become your own expert … fast!

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Be sure to check out all my college-related articles on College Confidential.