Not bad for a fat girl


Why Does the FAFSA Have to Be So Hard?

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.not-difficult

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.

My problems:

  1. I forgot the login to the link that takes you to the IRS.
  2. I got the security questions wrong. I mean, I didn’t really, but they thought I did.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. He sends a code. I enter it. It doesn’t work.
  9. I tell him this and he sends another code that works. WTF? Did he just make the first one up?
  10. 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?

1 Comment

And Then There Was One

And it’s the one that makes the most sense, of course. Yes, folks, he’s going to the hometown University – Arizona State!

FIMOpvK7_400x400You see, Arizona State University did this really cool thing. While he was weighing pros and cons they gave him a call. By they, I mean a super chill guy named Luis from the financial aid office. Luis wanted my son to know that Arizona State University decided they wanted him badly enough to pay for his full tuition and fees, for four years. Yeah, baby!

That bit of information made his decision so much easier, and it opened me up to admitting that deep down I dreaded the idea of him being all the way in Indiana, no matter how terrific Purdue University is (and I truly believe that it is terrific). He’ll be close by, he can still see his grandparents regularly, and several of his close friends are going there as well. Who knows, maybe they’ll rent a house together after freshman year? I suppose it’s possible.

My greatest fear, the university’s sheer size, has also been calmed. He was invited to apply to a particular engineering program that puts together a cohort of students who have similar educational goals. He was accepted right away. I suppose that fact that they invited him to apply meant that they wanted him in the program. I’m not sure about that one. It doesn’t matter though, I think it will be a good fit for him, sort of a school within a school approach. In fact, it seems similar to the International Baccalaureate program from which he’s graduating high school (only on a much more difficult scale, of course).

Anyway, I suppose it was inevitable. From birth this guy has been surrounded by ASU “stuff.” He had Sparky onesies and he attended Sundevil football games in diapers. His bedroom was painted gold with maroon accents, and his clock sported Sparky pointing to the hour and minute. His golf towel is embroidered with the pitchfork, and the plastic cups in our kitchen bear the ASU logo. Yes, this boy is a Sundevil, and this mom is a proud ASU mom.

Leave a comment

Growing Up

My son is in the throes of the whole transition from high school to college process, and by that I mean he’s scrambling to apply for scholarships while simultaneously working on finishing his IB high school diploma. He’s also waiting to hear whether he’s been accepted to three more universities and from there it will be time to make some decisions. It feels like it’s all happening so fast, yet parts of it (the waiting) feel like slow motion. Still, I think he’s ready (more or less). I’m the one who isn’t quite prepared for what’s coming.

The amazing thing about this kid is that he’s pretty sure he knows exactly what he wants to do. Whether he does it or something completely different isn’t really the point, just the idea that he knows what he wants is mind-blowing to me. I didn’t know what I wanted when I was seventeen, and I’m not entirely sure I know what I want today. Yes, I’m a teacher, and I love teaching, but will I teach forever? And in the same capacity that I do now? Or will I move on to become some type of coach or trainer or workshop provider or something different altogether?

I’m also a writer, but what exactly does that mean? Will BulgingButtons go viral? Hit the big time? Will I become a features writer? Will my pearls of wisdom translate into magazine articles, guest blog spots, short stories, or more? Will the manuscript I penned a while back turn into something? A best seller, even?

When I envision my future, I’m not clear on what I picture. I picture contentment, financial security, and my loving family. Those are the things that I desperately want in the future, but the means to achieving and maintaining them are less clear. I often wish I had the clarity of my teenage son. I know he lacks wisdom, but he makes up for it in enthusiasm. He’s young enough to not care about what he doesn’t know. He doesn’t worry about obstacles, and therefore he doesn’t put any in his own way. I’m the opposite. I’m usually my own worst enemy when it comes to success. I understand this intellectually, but I’m not sure how to combat it, practically.

Maybe I just need to finally make the vision board I’ve been thinking about for so long. I suppose the main reason I haven’t done it yet is that, like I said, my vision isn’t quite clear. It may become clearer as I get to work, though. I know there are certain images I want to include, such as a peaceful writing nook, a stack of books, and my happy family. I think I’ll throw in a stack of money (gotta pay the bills, right?), some healthy foods, and some workout gear too. They say if you can see it, you can be it, so why not?

I think tomorrow I’ll get out the glue stick and start going to town on this project. I love arts and crafts, and this project has been calling my name for a long time. It’s time to get it done and start inviting more success into my life.