Don’t Fear the FAFSA

With my second child getting ready for college, you’d think I’d be a whiz at the FAFSA by now (that’s the Free Application for Federal Student Aid). But I hate paperwork, even when it’s on a computer screen, and I was dreading filling it out this year, as always.

Wow, was I in for a surprise! The form got a whole lot easier since the last time we did it, with two major improvements. The first is something called “skip logic,” which means if a question doesn’t pertain to you, you don’t even see it. As you answer questions, new ones appear…but they are all relevant. No “none of the above” type responses necessary.

The second improvement is colossal. The Department of Education has partnered with the Internal Revenue Service to give you the option of importing your tax information directly from your tax form to the FAFSA. No more typing, checking and rechecking numbers. Tax forms are available two weeks after you file, so that’s a real incentive to file early and get both dreadful chores out of the way before the weather gets nice.

Here’s a great blog post with the “7 Common FAFSA Mistakes.” If you’re getting ready to file your first FAFSA (or, if you are like me and just hate doing this kind of thing), there is some great information here. Check it out.

You’ve heard the old joke that “government efficiency” is the biggest oxymoron. The FAFSA just got really efficient, and that’s great news for every student and parent!

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About Katherine Hutt

Katherine R. Hutt, Director of Communications and Media Relations with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, is an award-winning communicator who has been helping nonprofit organizations tell their stories for the past 25 years. She was a CBBB consultant on numerous projects for more than a decade before joining the staff in 2011.