How to Fill Out the FAFSA Without Breaking Up the Family

     It's officially October, the month where all things pumpkin-spice come out in full force. A time where spooky gals can embrace their true selves. However, another thing that is released every October is the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aide). In order to receive federal aid, every college student in the United States fills out the form and unintentionally causes chaotic family moments. It's not anyone's fault that the form requires a million little things that no person should ever need in life. Unfortunately this is part of the college experience. So to stand the brutal impasse that will come with filling out the application, here are five tips and tricks to allow this experience to go as smoothly as possible. 

 

1. Fill Out What You Can On Your Own

     Obviously you know your name, birthday, and address, so go ahead and fill out that kind of information to make the process go quicker.  If you think you know something but aren’t 100% sure, it’s probably best to leave it blank until you ask parents, or guardians, about it to make sure it’s right. Also, be proactive and make sure to either create a new FSA account or use the one previously used to go ahead and have some basic background information there.

 

2. Know What Forms You Are Going To Need 

     You can do some research before calling for help. By just going on Google and asking “What forms will I need to fill out the FAFSA,” you will be given the right answer. The application typically requires information from previous W-2’s, the latest tax return and other records of money. This is when the arguments tend to start, but by being prepared and knowing what’s needed you can avoid digging through drawers of papers at the last minute.

 

3. Have A Plan In Place When Going For Help

     As many students tend to still be dependents from their parents, they require help in filling out the federal application. When going for help, having a plan in place for yourself can save a lot of stress and anxiety going into the moment. Go ask when you know everyone is in a good mood, since you’ve done your research you can tell  them what’s needed, try to not let any distractions come around, be patient and be understanding. Your parents hate filling out this form just as much as you do. Having a plan and having everyone be on the same page can really be beneficial in halting any arguments. 

 

4. Be Patient

     This form is not easy to fill out. It has tricky wording and a lot of requirements. While the form can be filled out in one sitting in one day, it will be done with gritted teeth . Have patience in finding the correct forms. Have patience when your mom doesn’t think that’s the right number from the tax return that’s in her hand. Have patience when your parents are trying to multitask while also helping you. I like to think it’s a key concept, but with patience most yelling matches can be avoided. 

 

5. Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute

     Speaking as a procrastinator myself, fill out the application immediately. The earlier you get it done, the more money that is available to you. Also the faster it’s done, it’s done, you no longer have to worry about it. 

 

     I’m not saying the government wants families to argue in the fall, but it’s a little suspicious that the FAFSA, family holidays, politics and gift-giving all happen in a span of three months. Take these tips and have a decent time filling out the FAFSA. Maybe make it an annual thing. Avoiding arguments in families is like trying to catch a firefly, it rarely happens but is definitely possible. Make sure to also be aware of specific requirements your school has to ensure you don’t miss out on any opportunities for the next school year.