Revising the FAFSA: A primer for parents
Back in November, when Aleks and Kat applied to our local university – the one they both most want to attend – I figured we’d spend a month or so in “wait” mode. Oh, how wrong I was!
We are STILL waiting – though rumor (i.e., the official status update page for the kids’ applications) has it that we’ll – er, I mean they’ll - be hearing very soon. As their friends have received acceptances and rejections, the wait has been harder and harder for Aleks and Kat. They want to plan their next year, from which classes to take to which dorm room accessories to buy. But until they receive official notification, they are on hold.
I, too, am on hold. I haven’t yet revised the preliminary FAFSAs that I submitted in January because, let’s face it, why do the work if they won’t get in?
OK, that’s not the real reason that I haven’t yet revised the kids’ FAFSAs. That’d be akin to negative thinking, which could (some say) affect reality, making my actions – or lack thereof – directly responsible if, by chance, they’re rejected. (Or, side-note, if one twin is accepted and one twin is rejected, which would, in their lingo, really suck.) The real reason I haven’t revised the kids’ FAFSAs yet is that I started a demanding new job and I simply haven’t had a chance. There – I have an excuse. Er… I mean a reason.
But I digress.
- Go back to the Federal Student Aid site where I filled out the application. Click on “Make Corrections to a Processed FAFSA,” which is under column #3, “FAFSA Follow-Up.” (DO NOT select “Open Your Saved FAFSA or Correction Application” under column #2. I did that, and although Nikki in Customer Service was very nice, I sprouted 17 new gray hairs and wasted 46 and a half minutes in the process.)
- Under “which application do you want to retrieve?” select “2008 – 2009 Correction” from the drop-down menu and click “next.”
- On the next page I enter my kids SSN, last name, first name, date of birth (ah… remember that glorious day?), my kid’s PIN (which I received when I applied for it a long time ago and also received via snail mail), and his or her password. (It says “your password,” but would you even be reading this if your kid were the type to do this sort of stuff with no involvement from you?) And, here’s a confusing tidbit: it asks me to “create a password,” but Helpful Nikki just told me to enter my previous password. I did, and it worked. Next, click “next.”
- I am now whisked away, landing on the 2008-2009 Correction Form. I’ll be hanging out here a while, entering information that’s changed since I submitted my preliminary application, but (according to Helpful Nikki) only changing those answers; everything else can be left blank. In our case, we only need to make corrections to some of the questions about family income in section 4. Yes, we’ll still have three kids attending college next year (we hope; this waiting is excruciating!), no, we didn’t move, and as far as we know, none of the kids got married or – heaven forbid – became parents. I also now have less cash on hand because senior year, with grad night and prom and caps and tassels and all that can drain one dry!
- Don’t forget to change question #76, the one that asks if you will or did file your taxes. Change it to “did.” Woo-hoo! Click “save” if you want, but Helpful Nikki told me that I really only need to click “next.”
- Hold your breath.
- Now it asks me to confirm my kid’s and my own e-mail address. I guess they don’t want to go through all that number crunching and then not be able to reach you.
- Now it takes you to an official “List of Changes.” You’ll want to print this page. I want to, too – but for some reason I can’t. It’s not my printer’s fault, as it prints Word docs just fine, and I already hung up with Helpful Nikki, so I do the next wisest thing: I copy all the information to a horribly formatted Word doc and print that. You, however, will surely be able to print, because technology likes YOU. Sigh.
- The next page wants your kid’s PIN, which you stapled to the inside of your all-important FAFSA manila folder. Right?
- On the next page, click the radio button next to “agree.” Always click “agree” when there’s a chance you’ll be getting money. Why on earth would you go through all this work and then click “I disagree”?! Print this page – or, if the FAFSA site hates you, too, copy and paste it to a Word doc and print that. Click “next.”
- Now it’s time to tell the government whether you’re a boy or a girl and then enter your own PIN, which says, “I am willing to divulge to the US government all my financial information because I know you have it somewhere anyway. But here, have it all again, with my actual permission.” You DO have your own FAFSA PIN, right? You must, because you used it to complete the original application. (Listen to me; don’t I sound just like a mom?!) Click next.
- You will, for the gazillionth (or fourth) time, be greeted with “Keep going until you receive your confirmation page.” If you’re like me, you’re thinking that there better be chocolate with it when you receive it.
- Agree to giving up your first-born son… or third daughter, or only child, whatever the case may be. But realize, here and now, that what you are doing is part of the whole “be free, my child, and live a good life” thing. Sigh. Scroll down, hold your breath again, and before you pass out, click “submit my FAFSA now.”
- Next, you will be heartily congratulated for getting through the Correction to the FAFSA process. Ironically, the government congratulates your child for work that you actually did. Kind of like when your kid was in fourth grade and had that castle project, for which you stayed up till 1 AM gluing Popsicle sticks to cardboard. Same idea.
- You are dismayed to discover that chocolate did not, in fact, come from your printer, so now it’s time to steal some of that from that stash that you hid away last Halloween, when you sighed and remembered how adorable your kid was in that princess or pirate costume and wondered where the years went. Or, if it’s after 5 PM, you might want to hit the brandy instead.
- Demystifying the FAFSA
- Exit Counseling
- Filling It Out
- How the FAFSA Challenged Us to Find Alternative Funding
- Independent or Dependent Student Status?
- Reality Check
- The Calculations Behind the Application
- To-Do Lists, Anxiety, and Preparing for College
- What Happens Next?
- Why Submit the FAFSA