Monday, March 29, 2010


Tonight I filled out the dreaded FAFSA for Jill's upcoming junior year. The letters stand for something like "Federal Application For Student Aid" but I think it should stand for "Freaking Annoying Form for Student Aid" instead. Granted, it filled in some of the eight thousand response boxes for me automatically because I have already suffered through this particular exercise in futility on two other occasions.

I call it that because I'll get a form back in a couple of weeks that will basically state that we aren't eligible for any of the grants...but they'll be happy to help us out with a student loan. The truth is...I really want someone to just send me a check for the gazillion dollars it takes to get a kid through college these days so that I can quit considering my fallback plan...selling everything I own on eBay.

For those of you unschooled in this particularly heinous ritual of spring, the FAFSA is a necessary evil for every college bound student. It is the school's marching orders with regard to financial aid offerings...and if you don't fill it out...I'm sure that something just awful will happen. I don't actually know this, but I assume it to be so.

(And yes, those of you who had Coach Smith like I did in the 8th grade...I do know what happens when one assumes.)

The FAFSA has a list of information that you are supposed to gather before you even attempt to sit down and fill the thing out online. Among these are your child's driver's license (or is it drivers' license...I have no idea),their social security number, your adjusted gross income from the previous year, the year President Roosevelt was born, and the number of stars comprising the Big Dipper. You'll then place any income that you earned in various categories, figure out the school's code, and put in at least two different PIN numbers from a file that you haven't seen in a year, and will insert your mother's first dog's original owner's maiden name. Or something equally random.

Then they have the audacity to ask you to verify that it is correct. I'm still looking for the box that says "I assume so" because I'm honestly not really sure if I answered the questions correctly in spite of the fact that I think I'm intelligent enough to walk and chew gum. Apparently some people are not...or are just chronically lazy...because they have a section where a preparer can do this whole awful thing for you. I guess if you can afford to have someone clean your house, landscape your yard and give you an in-house can afford to hire someone to do your FAFSA. I can only dream...

So, I've finished that chore for another year and I anxiously await the report that will tell me that we are too wealthy to get financial aid. Um. Okay. If we eat ramen noodles and live in the dark for the next year...we might be able to contribute the amount that the government thinks we should be able to contribute as a family. As if. There's no box on there that gives me license to just spout why we need financial aid such as..."female child...likes to dress cute...highlighting mandatory"...apparently by design.

I'm not complaining too loudly, though. We do have the PACT plan (Prepaid Affordable College Tuition) which I can only hope holds out until Brian graduates in 2015. That is the year that I do the happy dance for having both kids off of my payroll and when I expect to be able to resume certain things like buying clothes that actually fit and driving a car less than a decade old. Jill will probably reward my enthusiasm and newfound zest for life with an announcement of a wedding or something (expensive) like that.

On the other hand...that IS only five years away. Could be worse. My friends have children in elementary school and junior high. I have one more year of private school tuition, two years of college for one and four years for the other to go. Then possibly a wedding, a rehearsal dinner...and I can then devote myself to paying off everything remaining...or living in a van down by the river.

So, I'm about to go to bed with visions of numbers and forms and ridiculous questions floating through my head. At least I can check the FAFSA off the list and won't have to visit it for another year. And who knows? Maybe we'll get news that she's eligible for work-study or something like that. Yeah...right.

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