Yep. It's October. And, for anyone with children in college that means filling out the FAFSA every year. Whether you, the parent, or the student does it, the closer to the beginning of October you do it, the better. If you haven't filled out th...
The FAFSA needs to be filled out in January of senior year, but it requires tax information. How can you fill out that form when you don't even HAVE your tax information yet?The answer: estimate, then amend.
You fill out the forms with a close estimate of your tax information. Then, when you file your taxes for the year, go back and put in the corrected numbers, so your tax forms and the FAFSA forms match perfectly.
Let me give you just a few paragraphs to read. Since the FAFSA needs to be completed every year from senior year in high school for your oldest child, until senior year of college for your youngest child, you might as well start to understand it now, right? This information comes directly from the PDF booklet "Completing the FAFSA 1012-13" http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/attachments/siteresources/2012-13CTF.pdf The booklet is actually written pretty well, by the way, and I was able to understand it myself! Very little jargon! Pages 19 and 35, and you'll get a short explanation of the process.
On page 19, it says:
Q. I’ll be filing a tax return this year but I probably won’t get around to it until April. How should I answer the financial questions? Should I wait to fill out this form after I’ve filed my tax return?
A. Ideally, you should complete a FAFSA after you‘ve done your tax return, but don‘t wait until April. Many schools award aid on a first-come, first-served basis. Also, you may not be eligible for state aid if you wait until April to submit your FAFSA. Many state aid deadlines are early in the calendar year (calendar year 2012 for the 2012-13 award year). If you haven‘t completed your tax return, you should calculate your adjusted gross income (AGI) and taxes paid using the instructions for IRS Form 1040. You can get the instructions and the form at a public library or download them in Portable Document Format (PDF) from www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html.
Keep in mind that if you submit your application before you complete a tax return, you may need to make corrections later if your income or tax information isn‘t accurate. You will also need to return any federal student aid you received based upon incorrect information.
You might have to provide your school with a copy of your completed tax return (assuming you‘re required to file one) before you receive federal student aid.
On page 35, it says:
How to complete the income tax section
It is best to use a completed 2011 income tax return to fill out this application. However, if you do not have a completed tax return, you should calculate your adjusted gross income (AGI) and taxes paid using the applicable IRS instructions. You can get the instructions and the appropriate tax form at a public library or download them in Portable Document Format (PDF) from www.irs.gov/formspubs/index.html.
When your application is compared with the tax return actually filed, the financial information must agree. If there are differences, you must correct the information using Corrections on the Web or by correcting your paper SAR and mailing it back to the U.S. Department of Education.
If you complete your FAFSA online, you may be eligible to electronically retrieve your tax information from the Internal Revenue Service and have it automatically transferred into your FAFSA. Retrieving your information from the IRS is an easy and efficient way to make sure that your most accurate tax information is included on your application.
Even if you (and your spouse) are not required to file a 2011 income tax return, you will need to calculate your earnings for the year. Use W-2 forms and other records to answer the questions in this section.
Parents with seniors, try to fill out your FAFSA paperwork now. College need the information to give you scholarship money. It's really worth the trouble!
There are more girls going to college than there are boys. Girls are in the majority, so they are less likely to receive admission and financial aid..... except in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. In those areas, girls are still in the minority. You can encourage your young women to pursue a college major in STEM, and it might improve their chances of admission and financial aid. One of my clients recommended Expanding Your Horizons conferences for girls.
Expanding Your Horizons in Science and Mathematics™ conferences for girls
Their mission is to encourage young women to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. Through Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) Network programs, they provide STEM role models and hands-on activities for middle and high school girls. Currently Expanding Your Horizons conferences are held in 31 states and in Europe and Asia.
There are lots of benefits of taking the PSAT; practicing for an important test, receiving financial aid for college. Last week I found an unexpected benefit! When children see a public school environment, it can have surprisingly positive consequences! This letter from Sheri explains what her son learned in school the day he took the PSAT.
What a Difference a Day Makes!
Hi Lee, I thought you might enjoy hearing about my son's day (well, really just a morning) at the local high school taking the PSAT. It is quite funny how much difference a day can make.
We HAVE had a slow start to this year with moving followed by inundations of bugs, water damage, replacing all sorts of unexpected pieces and parts of our home, fatigue, etc. These have all hit us hard. It was getting very discouraging to think of what we were (and were not) accomplishing in our schooling. But the Lord has been good to encourage me through many and sundry ways, one of which was my son's day at our local public high school.
He was put in the classroom of a very nice teacher whose wife schools their children at home. This was a very kind consideration by the school counselor, I appreciated it. The things he noticed about the classroom were the disobedience and disrespect the kids had for the teacher's word. He said, "no talking" yet they talked. He said, "no computers", yet they got on the computers and played games. I got the biggest belly laugh out of this, because these are the EXACT things he does at home! So, he came to the conclusion that it would be extremely difficult for a teacher to actually teach these kids anything (oh really?). He told me today that he thought the way to teach, really teach, and get kids to retain was to have the information make a large and personal impact on them. Wow.
I wanted to tell you also, how much I appreciated your well timed encouragement today. In school we have not done as well as I would have hoped. I have failed in many ways. But, I do need to get back up again, dust myself off (and get my husband's table saw out of the school room) and get to work. I truly appreciate you!!
Lotsa love, Sheri
Her conclusion, about getting back up and dusting herself off, reminds me so much of the TobyMac song "Get Back Up Again."
"We lose our way, we get back up again It’s never too late to get back up again And one day you gonna’ shine again You may be knocked down, but not out forever."
I hope you aren't having a bad day. If you are having a bad day, remember that it could be worse, and you still have the opportunity to get back up again. You may be knocked down, but you're not out forever.
The FAFSA (Free Applications for Federal Student Aid) is a financial form that helps the federal government determine your financial "need." I just think the whole concept is hilarious, really! Just imagine the federal government somehow knowing exactly what you can afford to spend on college! OK, stop laughing! Now let's get serious!
The FAFSA is the basis for many college scholarships. Seniors need to fill out the FAFSA as soon as possible each year. In fact, many colleges suggest that parents spend each New Year's Day filling out the FAFSA. Now really, what could be more fun?
Is it worth the hassle? Let’s look at this really closely for a moment. I have mentioned that rarely do people pay “sticker price” for a college. I love to read about how the AVERAGE parent saves 43% of the average college costs – in both public and private school!
While you could conclude that you still need to panic about the cost, I prefer to look at the bright side. College costs are not as astronomical as they appear on the brochures.
There are people who believe you “should not” save for college because the more you save, the less that will be awarded to you through the FAFSA. Here is an article that says that saving money will not hurt you (at least with financial aid.)
For our family, we did what we could to save for college, knowing full well that we couldn’t save enough to pay the “sticker price” for a private school. We tried to save enough for the kids to attend a public university while living at home. That way, if they didn’t get ANY scholarships, we could still afford college.
Our FAFSA results confirmed that we weren’t penalized for our savings at all. Each family is unique, of course, but don’t hesitate to save for college because you think it will cost you in financial aid.
To get more information, there is a video that can explain everything. It's called "The Five-Minute FAFSA Video" available on the Fastweb site.
Plan ahead, because you need to get a PIN number from the federal government in order to fill out the FAFSA. Not surprisingly, it takes the government a while to get you the PIN once you request it! Ask for your PIN in mid-December, so you'll be ready for January 1, and the big FAFSA party!
Not planning for financial aid is a mistake, but not the biggest mistake you can make when your kids are in high school. Here is a resource that will help you avoid some real whoppers during homeschool high school.
Here is a brief follow-up note I sent to Ann after she was told her son had won a $14,000/year scholarship from his first choice school. I thought my advice might help someone else as well.
Just fyi, the financial aid you hear about at this moment is usually just a portion of the final amount. Other amounts will be trickling in later. This does not take into account your financial "need" - and the government may say you have a need even if your income is up to $150,000. It doesn't not take into account any special scholarships that the school may have. It doesn't take into account engineering scholarships, and private companies have been pouring a lot of money into college scholarships for engineering recently. I'm expecting that large remaining amount to get smaller - but they may keep you waiting until May before you finally know the REAL amount you will pay.
Call the admission, and say, "We are so excited with our son's acceptance, and with his scholarship. We will not be able to attend without further financial aid. Do you have any other scholarships available, so that we can attend your school? We applied to your school first, because it is Nate's first choice, and we're worried we can't afford it and will have to disappoint our son."
That will tell them that they are his #1 school, that they will be able to retain him into sophomore year, and that you need more money. The squeaky wheel gets the grease, you know. If you don't tell them you need more money, they won't know you need more money. Leave it all open-ended, without committing to anything, but make your needs politely known.
You're in GREAT shape for the first step in scholarships - it's still OCTOBER for goodness sake! Woo Hoo! Party!
I saw this article about saving money from college, and it had some interesting tidbits. Here is the paragraph that caught my attention:
In 2007, according to the College Board, the average financial aid package totaled $9,500 covering 43% of tuition, fees, and room and board for one year at the average four-year college, public or private. This underscores the need for families to save in a dedicated college savings account to supplement the remaining costs. However, 60% of parents think that if they save too much toward their child's future education that it could negatively affect their child's chances of receiving financial aid. And that is just one myth about saving for college. Here are the other seven.
Let's look at this really closely for a moment. I have mentioned that rarely do people pay "sticker price" for a college. I love to read about how the AVERAGE parent saves 43% of the average college costs - in both public and private school! This article implies that we should therefore panic about the cost. I like to look at the bright side, though. On the bright side, college costs are not as astronomical as they appear on the brochures.