Countless links are available with FAFSA letters, but they are not the right one. You need: https://fafsa.ed.gov/ – it is the only one you need. Many links will ask for all your info and then a credit card. DO NOT GET INTO THESE SCAMS.
Set aside time and just do it
It’s not that bad. You’ll need your W-2s, your student’s W-2s, and it’s easier if you you have your taxes done, but you can still finish.
There are countless help sites, and they do help. The point of FAFSA is to determine what you and your student — you each have to do one — will owe for college. This is just an estimate. It does not take into consideration a lot of the aid your student will get directly from the school. No matter what FAFSA says in the end, don’t panic. Once your student chooses a school, sit down with the financial aid folks at the school, and discuss your package.
An ad campaign with Michelle Obama is running right now that offers tons of tips on how to fill in FAFSA and what to do. Here’s the link.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
Your retirement investments and house are safe from FAFSA scrutiny. I spent hours figuring out every penny we had invested everywhere — the first time. Then I visited a site that simplified net worth on investments. Here’s a link.
Don’t forget to put in “zero”
If an answer is zero — remember to put in the zero. Don’t leave lines blank. You’ll have to go back and figure it out at some point.
The final countdown
Most schools want your finished FAFSA before mid March. The big thing about getting in early is that some funds are first-come, first-serve. If you don’t get your application into a school, complete with FAFSA info, you risk getting in on all the available funds. We learned this the hard way.
No matter what …
We had good years, and we had bad years. When we had four kids in school at the same time, it was actually a benefit for them. When it does come down to what your students will owe, check out loans — all of our kids have loans. Big loans. But they all have careers, and they are paying back the loans. None of them are starving. We also have loans. Check with a financial adviser to see what is the best plan for you and your kids. The best advice we ever received was not to stop funding retirement in order to fund their educations. Unless you’re Warren Buffet. Ha!