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Dear Parents:

Every year more than 20 million students apply for federal student aid to attend college through Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Parents around the country are using this application to apply for financial aid for college and are confused about using this application when applying with their children. The application process alone has over 100 questions. it determines whether or not a family qualifies for financial aid. This determining factor is a concern for most parents. Many critics of FAFSA believe the application is too long and needs a simpler version. Some changes have occurred over the past year, including considering whether or not same sex marriage should be filed as "married" in filing. The most pressing concern by parents has been the application process, which should be simpler. Each part can be filled in by the student and a parent or parents. Educational consultants are now most familiar with the challenges and changes, as parents are completing the application. Most consultants are aware of the struggles parents are facing these days before or after applying to college or a university. They seem to understand that the application's challenges also include making the decision about what college the student plans to attend. In this newsletter, we will examine some of the information parents have received and clarify the online step application process. While the term "financial aid" is a very broad one, most parents are likely to have a very narrow view of how much money they think their child should receive for college. Some parents believe their child has exclusive rights to scholarships and grants while others seek financial aid and grants offered a school, or aid through the federal government. Some parents are very concerned about who offers financial aid and who is entitled to this aid. In this case, it's often their child and not others. Many times, these parents are either confused about resources of financial aid available as it applies to their child or feel entitled to the awards given. Many times, those parents have a sense of entitlement when addressing the completion of the FAFSA form. These parents often have challenges disclosing information on the application particularly related to tax filing and income. However, parents often need more direction about applying for the financial aid through the FAFSA web site. In the past, when students applied for financial aid for college, they simply applied through the financial aid office, signed the document, and either the loan office or financial aid officer awarded the loan. This was long before the development of FAFSA and its implementation of these new rules for applying for financial aid. The Department of Education not only implemented this process for receiving funding for colleges, but it also set the guidelines and conditions for receiving these grants and loans. Additionally, those funds available to students have guidelines for repayment and this was to prevent default.

When parents apply for financial aid for their child they must understand the following:

There are two types of students

  • Independent Students (a graduate student , active military or married).

  • Dependent Students (lives at home, single or dependent on parents income).

FAFSA: Determining Your Dependency Status

All loans are payable to the lender nine months after completing college, unless there is an extension granted by the lender.

Recently there has been an increase in defaults on student loans estimated to be about 1 Trillion reported by MSN. Some believe this alarming debt alone has forced many parents not to apply for student aid. This, however, does not reflect a student's eligibility for applying for student aid. Also, parents applying for the FAFSA must understand when they are applying that this application is designed to help those students who fall into these two above categories.

Federal Student Aid is much broader these days.
  • Federal Student Aid is different from scholarships.

  • Federal aid is supplemental to helping a student through grants and loans.

  • Students can list up to 10 colleges as they complete the FAFSA.

  • The FAFSA now considers same sex marriages as "married" in applying for federal student aid.

  • Applying for financial aid takes about 30 minutes when using the FAFSA application.

  • Serving in the military is not part of the FAFSA application. (You don't need to be an active duty serviceman to apply).

  • You must be a United States citizen to apply for federal student aid. (Naturalized citizens can apply.)

  • You cannot have a felony or record of a criminal offense.

  • Requires high school graduation and all applicants applying for federal student aid must use the FAFSA application form.

  • The FAFSA is also designed to determine the estimated family contribution for the student receiving financial aid, and is not a guarantee.

  • Federal Student Aid is part of the Department of Education and there is $150 billion available through the program; grants and loans are also available.

  • There is an estimated 22 million FAFSA applications per year.

  • Federal Student Aid is not a scholarship program.

  • Any student applying for student aid must have completed high school or received a GED by September 14, 2012.

  • The FAFSA has to be completed by the student and the parents.

  • FAFSA has deadlines for submission of the application and each state has its own deadline.

  • A student will receive a code for entering in information which must be updated regularly.

  • Each parent will receive a code in completing the application.

  • Changes to your FAFSA application can be done online by the student or the parent/parents.

  • 7 Myths about the FAFSA

Why Parents Don’t Apply Block Code

Most parents don't apply for financial aid sometimes because they simply don't have the right information. While they might have some idea, it is not always clear to parents looking at the FAFSA website or when asking their child for information. An example of this is when a parent or parents don't fill out their part of the application. Many parents are often confused about sharing information on the application because they believe they don't qualify, based on their reported income tax filing. Equally, the children of these families may not provide the best information when completing the application or meeting the deadline. Also, when they are applying for college, students are unclear about the school they wish to attend to note on the FAFSA application. We have also found some parents believe it's their responsibility to complete the application, further delaying it's completion by the student that is not doing their part. In this financial aid section, it takes both parent and student. This further confuses the matter when parents who have children living at home believe the final decision is theirs.

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Most parents don't know:
  • The decision for a student to apply for federal aid is up to the student and not always the parents.

  • Financial aid for college is determined by the estimated family contribution, and not solely on the students income.

  • Any income which the student makes can be added to the FAFSA application during the year and this may show financial need, particularly when the student is not working at all during the summer.

  • A family can work with an educational consultant in providing the correct information.

  • A parent cannot complete the form alone.

  • The student part of the FAFSA will produce a code for the student. They have to complete the application and save the code when they finish the application.

  • Parents also receive a code.

  • There are deadlines for completing the FAFSA and each state has their own deadline for completing the information.

  • A parent or student filling out the FAFSA is not required to fill in questions when they simply don't know the answer.

What Should Parents Do?

The first thing a parent needs to do is to apply for financial aid through the FAFSA web site. The next is to make sure you are completing the application by the deadline. When you don't have an answer or are not clear of a question, call the hotline, which is designed to help you navigate the process by answering the questions you have.

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