For the uninitiated, the FAFSA is the financial aid document that is required for colleges and universities in the United States. If you want to be considered for financial aid you have to fill out the FAFSA.
The FAFSA is an evil document, approximately 10,472 questions long, and it asks you the most intimate financial details of your life. Not only that, it’s confusing because sometimes the information is about the student and sometimes it’s about the parent(s). Oh goody.
Well, last year I did it. I gathered all the necessary information and sat down with my son and filled that sucker out. It wasn’t fun, and it wasn’t quick, but we got it done. Between his grades, test scores, and demonstrated financial need (the fancy terms the FAFSA people use for how poor you are), he ended up with a considerable amount of aid, in the way of grants and scholarships. This is the kind of aid you don’t have to pay back, the best kind.
The thing about financial aid, though, is that you have to file a new FAFSA each year. And the thing about THIS year’s FAFSA that makes it different is that the information required is the exact same information as last year, that is to say the information from 2015 tax returns. It used to be that you used the previous year’s returns, but the rules changed and now it’s the information from two years ago.
Should be simple, right? I already did this, and I even printed the whole giant document out after I finished so I have a paper copy. Smart, right?
I shouldn’t even need that, though. I should be able to login, press a few buttons, and my information should magically appear, after all, they already have it. My friend assured me today that it would be a piece of cake. She lied.
- I forgot the login to the link that takes you to the IRS.
- I got the security questions wrong. I mean, I didn’t really, but they thought I did.
- I reset the login and password, only to be told that there’s no record of my address on the IRS database from last year.
- I begin hand entering data, using my handy printout as my guide, when it tells me that the amount of my income doesn’t match what was previously entered.
- I check my 1040, line 37. I check my printout from the last time I did this. It matches. The computer disagrees, but it won’t let me log in to the IRS site to see what they think it should say.
- I fear that I’m caught in some type of loop, so I log out and attempt to start over. I can’t. I’m locked out and need to create a new login.
- The email linked to the account is my son’s. He is not here. I must text him to send me the reset code so I can continue this exercise in futility.
- He sends a code. I enter it. It doesn’t work.
- I tell him this and he sends another code that works. WTF? Did he just make the first one up?
- Apparently it wasn’t a fluke, I still can’t enter the information. I’m at an impasse, so I decide that the best course of action is a glass of wine and a blog post.
Perhaps I’ll try again tomorrow. I don’t get it, though. Why, oh why does it have to be this complicated?