The Importance of Definitions When Filling Out the FAFSA

If you are having trouble filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you are far from alone. One of the things that makes the application tough can be the terminology used. The good news is that the FAFSA defines how the terms are used. On the other hand, those definitions may not always be what you expect. That can lead to confusion if you don’t read the definitions first.

Here are a couple of examples:

  • Parents – This is simple enough for a traditional family. If your parents are still married to each other, then you need information on both of them. However, if your parents are no longer married, things can get complicated. In fact, it is so complicated that Federal Student Aid released a flow chart to help you understand the parent(s) to get information from.
  • Net worth of investments – What counts as an investment, and how do you calculate net worth? Real estate is an example of an investment. However, the home that you currently live in doesn’t count. If you have invested in a mutual fund, that counts. But retirement accounts don’t. Don’t forget to subtract debts owed against your investments or portions owned by someone else. So if you have a $200,000 property, but you co-own if 50/50 with someone and share a $100,000 loan on the property, the net worth is just $50,000.

Don’t Give Up! Get the Help You Need

College Planning Source can help you to make sense of financial aid in order to help you maximize the amount of free money for college that your family receives. Contact us today at 858.676.0700, or you can get in touch online.

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To ensure the safety of parents, students, and staff, and to echo the concerns of the state regarding COVID-19, we will be taking our student counseling meetings and our student workshops online. 
Beginning today, Monday, March 16th, 2020, we will be conducting meetings via Zoom (a video conferencing software) until further notice.
For upcoming scheduled meetings, our counselors will be contacting you directly regarding the Zoom meetings.
Our staff will continue to work tirelessly to prepare for the upcoming applications season during this time. If you are currently on break, get  get a head start now and take advantage of this time to start college planning. For any questions or concerns, please contact us at 858-676-0700.



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