Just got done with FAFSA–what an ugly thing. I HATE FAFSA forms. This is an exercise in paperwork. Longer and harder than the IRS tax forms, it is designed to make middle class families feel horrible about college prospects. An easier version of the form would have just a couple questions
- What is your family income
- How many kids in college
First calculation is a number based on 25% of the income before taxes. This number represents how much the federal government thinks a family should contribute to education. Don’t worry about a mortgage, taxes, food, or retirement funds. Those are discretionary expenses and not really important. And then the second number divides the first number into almost equal piles. Thus if you have 2 kids in college, each would get half.
But no, that’s now what we do. Instead it is an elaborate sham game. Begin with the student filling out all sorts of data about their income, marital status, investments, the number of boats they own, and the like. Then the kid is supposed to fill out the same stuff for the parents. How much did they make, what is the amount in their bank account, how what types of retirement savings do they have, how much is everything worth, what is their educational status, social security number, and other lovely facts that kids probably shouldn’t need to know about their parents.
Finally you sign the forms. Both the kids and the parents need to have an account with secret passwords, special email addresses, and other strange notational information. You sign electronically using the pin and a mouse pad. This needs to be done as soon as possible after Jan 1st, but no later than the end of February. Of course, taxes don’t need to be done before April 15th, but I guess FAFSA is an incentive to guesstimate early. And this occurs even when the kid and parents are in different states. Finally, FAFSA generates an EFC — expected family contribution. And guess what. It’s about 25% of the before tax income. But I had to waste hours learning that fact.
To make the whole process better, Bob baked a wonderful blackberry pie from scratch. YUMMMM! It was the best blackberry pie I’ve ever had. So there was a sweet end to an obnoxious task.
By the way Maggie, you should ask Kate to model some of her new clothes. We got her some new ones and she’s been scrounging in the best traditions of our family.