Confused and didn't know where to turn

by Desiree
(North Carolina)

I wanted to go to college when I first graduated in 2006. I went to the FAFSA site, like a friend had told me about. The first time I went through the application I was very confused. I was so confused it turned me away from even doing it. I was young, didn't have family that could really help me. Also I was very stubborn as a kid and didn’t want to ask questions or receive help. I still am like that, but wiser. Now I am a mother of two, my one child is disabled with a heart condition, I am more determined this go round.

So I went on the FAFSA site again. This time unlike last time I had a college picked out and already talked to the counselor. I started going through my application again and feeling determined, but yet defeated. So, I decided to call my adviser up and ask questions. She was willing to help me in any way she could. I realize now if I would have not been so stubborn and asked a teacher or like now my adviser, I think I would have already been through college.

So basically the moral of the story, yes the FAFSA application is very confusing, but there is people willing to help you. Contact your school adviser, or if you’re just graduating high school have a teacher help you. Also another tip just go through the whole application, answer what you can and that you know. Than that way you can sit down with your adviser, counselor, or teacher to help you answer what you don’t understand. College is so important, don’t let something as small as filling out your FAFSA application bring you down. Don't feel defeated you can do it, Chin up and move forward. Best on everything in your future.

Read more FAFSA Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Desiree for sharing your story about FAFSA. The FAFSA or Free Application for Federal Student Aid is confusing, especially the first time. Getting help with the FAFSA application is one of the best tips for success with financial aid. Good luck to you.

Join in and write your own page! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to FAFSA Help.

Pay It Forward

by Carlene

I will explain what I did not know and understand about financial aid, but how I came to understand financial aid as a college student. I started college in the fall of 1997, at a community college over 60 miles away from my hometown. I did not put any thought into going to college, but I was approached by a lawyer in my town that offered to help me apply to college and apply for financial aid. I was granted a work study grant my second semester of college, where I was encouraged by the director of Financial Aid to work in the Financial Aid Office. I agreed to work in the Financial Aid Office, as I really did not have many options to choose from for employment.

I found the financial aid process to be confusing and in my opinion overwhelming at times because it did not make sense to me. I was not criticized for my lack of understanding, as I was told it was normal to feel confused and overwhelmed. I kindly accepted the words of wisdom, and continued to work in the office and perform my scheduled work duties as directed. Within six weeks everything fell into place, and I began to understand the financial aid process.

I started out assisting the students with filing their written application, before the FAFSA became available online. I noticed the financial portion of the application appeared to be the most intimidating and time consuming. I collected the required documents from the students that were needed to complete their financial aid application, according to the dates and deadlines that were given to them.

I find it enlightening that I am currently working at the same High School I graduated from in 1997. I will speak with the student first and have them gather their required documents; such as their social security number and/or parents information if they will allow them to have it so they can be prepared to complete the application. I advise the student come back with the documents and a parent (if they choose to come as well and begin the application). I often find that if the parent comes with their student they are at ease too, because they are often intimidated by the FAFSA application to begin with. Then I have the student apply for a pin number before they begin their application.

The next step is to begin filling out the application, and during this time I can answer questions the student and parent may have in regards to being a dependent or independent student. Once the dependent/independent section is complete, we can move to the financial information which is a lot simpler now that there is an IRS downloader to input the tax information if taxes are already filed. In approximately twenty minutes the student has filed their FAFSA application. Thus I can pay it forward by assisting high school students and parents in filing the FAFSA application, because of my knowledge and experience that I gained as a student in college.

Read more FAFSA Help Tips from other students and parents who have been through process.

Comment from your friendly team at College Financial Aid Advice

Thank you Carlene for sharing your story about paying it forward. I like you advice about helping the student and parent together as they complete the FAFSA.

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