Friday, March 9, 2012

I'm dreading filling out my financial aid application

So it's almost spring now and that means it's time to write up the FAFSA or whatever other financial aid application that your school desires so they can pass judgement on your finances and decide how much help you'll get in the next year.  Last year this was a breeze for me.  At least as much as any process involving doing your tax returns, finding old tax returns and filling out even more paperwork can be.  I knew the rules, knew how to best arrange my finances in that light, and was pretty confident in my efforts to do so.  I came out of the process with an award that far exceeded my hopes and dreams (ok, even I don't dream about financial aid) of what I might be awarded.

But there's a problem.  Now I have to go through the process again and I'm nervous that it won't go as well.  This year the paperwork is going to be almost as complicated.  There will be fewer forms but my taxes are more complicated.  I'm still putting off whether or not I'll deduct my MBA - it's the only thing awaiting completion on my return.  Basically I'm worried because my finances are in really good shape, better than I was hoping in some ways.  No loans, investments have done well, extra 529 money, and spending that stayed low through out the last year.  That's worrisome because I fear I may be penalized because of my hard work and success and will receive less aid than last year. 

But there's nothing to do but to fill it out, turn it in, and see what comes back.  Cross your fingers for me!

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  1. Financial aid is meant for those that do not have funding to go to school... so if you do not receive aid it is not a "penalty", its a blessing and a sign that you are financially on top of things.

    If you have money in the bank and thus do not qualify for financial aid, consider applying for academic fellowships and other awards. These are given to individuals that meet high academic quality (which I'm guessing you are), not just high need (which you are not). Granted, there are less of these available for masters level terminal degrees (MSs, MAs, MPHs, MBAs) but its because the education timeline and cost is short compared to a PhD. that lasts 5-15 years and includes research costs.

    Either way, good luck!

  2. Hi,

    I have been following this blog recently and find your journey both inspiring and brilliant. I do have one big question. In one of your posts you mentioned that you have assets in the six figures yet you were able to get a lot of financial aid. How did they not go after your original assets to begin with?

  3. Anonymous - The vast majority of my assets are in retirement accounts which many schools shelter in their aid calculations.

  4. Good luck in getting aide. Even if you don't get it, I'm sure you'll be able to pay for your schooling. It's tough but worth it!

  5. My first two years of college I didn't take in any loans, because my parents were anti-debt during that time. But my package amount was still the same from year to year, so I'm feeling optimistic about your situation.

    I don't know if you can still do this now, but I used to input different values on the online FAFSA just to see what the resulting outcome will be. The values I tried out didn't change anything. Doing this could help you see where you stand and help with your worry.

    If I still felt worry, I would talk to the financial aid office, or someone who works there.