Tuesday, January 09, 2007

My foray into FAFSA

I thought this was actually my first connection with FAFSA, but apparently I had filled out a PIN application before this. Having done that, when I approached FAFSA again for a PIN, I was stopped at the moat!

Of course, I forgot my PIN from 3 or so years ago, so the FAFSA people had to check me out by asking all sorts of personal questions and then asking me to answer my "secret" question. (which for some reason I was able to remember)

But why does it take FAFSA 4 hours to email out the PIN? Are there really computers processing this request, or people looking in huge rolodex?

If you have kids and you they are going to school beyond High School, you need to know about doing a FAFSA.

Here is how the website describes their function:

Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, plays a central and essential role in America's postsecondary education community.

Federal Student Aid's core mission is to ensure that all eligible Americans benefit from federal financial assistance—grants, loans and work-study programs—for education beyond high school. The programs we administer comprise the nation's largest source of student aid: during the 2004-05 school year alone, we provided approximately $74 billion in new aid to nearly 10 million postsecondary students and their families. Our staff of 1,100 is based in 10 cities in addition to our Washington headquarters.

Among our most visible and essential services are the development, distribution, and processing of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the fundamental qualifying form used for all federal and government-guaranteed commercial lenders' programs—as well as for many state, regional and private student aid programs. By filling out the online or paper FAFSA, applicants start the process of qualifying for aid. Each year our staff processes approximately 14 million FAFSAs.

Because we oversee $391 billion of outstanding student loans, it's our job to ensure that all of our partners in the student aid community—schools, lenders, servicers and guaranty agencies—operate fairly, honestly and efficiently. Another key role we perform is to make students and their families aware that financial aid is available and is a necessary first step to further education. As America's premier source of federal student aid information, we distribute numerous publications, host multiple Web sites and run several customer call centers.
Before you attempt to fill out a FAFSA, you really need to get your hands on the Checklist of Documents Needed form and collect up those documents. The main papers needed are your prior year's tax returns.

You will of course need Social Security numbers, bank statements, and other investment, income and Federal Tax records.

FAFSA is the main clearing house for all loan and grant money information. It isn't all that hard,. but requires patience to finish.

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3:08 PM EDT  

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