<p>I attended an information session where the private company will fill out the FAFSA and Profile form and manage financial aid aspects. They claim many people make mistakes and are left out in the financial aid help. The company is claiming that most of their kids will get enough need-based money, as they will make sure that the parents financial aid information is correct. What they forget conveniently to tell parents that they will work with kids to tell what school they should apply based on dreams. The company is playing on the fears that filling FAFSA is harder than tax Form</p>
<p>Even if the kid has stats, why parents wants to shell $1000 for this from filing service. Unfortunately, I saw many people who probably should not spend this money. Please educate first time like me who will be filing FAFSA and profile Forms…</p>
<li><p>Is filling FAFSA is so difficult? </p></li>
<li><p>The company also mentioned that FAFSA must be filled after earliest possible date after receiving W-2 forms in January month while kid is a senior. If parents do not do so aid is awarded on first come first one to get basis Are you too late if one fills out the form by February ? Can you do an estimation on the income and fill estimates and correct it later on. </p></li>
<li><p>If you make numerical or clerical mistakes, kids aid may be in jeopardy Do colleges not clarify those FAFSA/Profile mistakes.</p></li>
<p>both the FAFSA and PROFILE can be filled online- which will give you prompts what boxes to be filled out
FAFSA is more of a PITA than the tax forms, but if you take it step by step you can do it
Paper copies of FAFSA will be available at libraries & some libraries may have free assistance to aid you
I had the paper form of FAFSA and filled it out line ( need a PIN #) as soon as I could, which was Jan 1st.
THis enabled D to have first crack at money.
I then had the correct it at least twice.
Once when I had updated info & once after college "corrected" it incorrectly
PROFILE you cannot correct, but you can send updated info to colleges</p>
<p>No! You don't need to pay money for anyone to filll this out. It's just BS. Very simple to fill out by yourself. If you have complicated tax issues, or run your own business you might benefit from advise from an accountant or tax lawyer who understands FA issues - but the forms themselves are easy and quick and FREE. You need a PIN - get it in November or December so you have it ready for filling out the fafsa. Pin is free and easy and you get it online at the Fafsa.gov website. HTH :)</p>
<p>It isn't that hard. It helped me, the first time, to get a paper copy of the FAFSA so I could see just what information I needed to have on hand. Then I filled it out online. You don't have to fill it out all at once either; you can return to it later if you need to find some info.</p>
<p>FAFSA is free, but CSS Profile does cost something to fill out and send to colleges--far less than $1000, however! I just cannot see spending that kind of money.</p>
<p>I'm kind of surprised H&R Block hasn't gotten into this. If you can do your taxes, then the FAFSA and Profile will be easy. It just requires having the required information and time. Both should be completed by the indicated deadline (always, always double check due dates), which is always earlier than April 15th.</p>
<p>mmm ... yes, certainly the forms are easy to fill out. I did ours without much problem. BUT, the financial services for which you're asked to pay ($1,000 sounds about average) target parents with more complicated finances and who lack the time or background to research their options. Hiring an accountant to do this for you, as suggested, probably won't end up costing you less. "Options" are legal ways to arrange assets for maximum financial aid (or minimum EFC). These are real. You can certainly research these and take care of them yourself if you don't want to pay an expert to do it. But families who have scrimped and saved for a college fund (or who anticipate a generous gift from the grandparents) would be foolish to dive headlong into FAFSA and Profile without checking their options.</p>
<p>The FAFSA is NOT a nightmare. As for everything, it does require a minimum investment in time. However, there are complete instuctions available for download from the government website. The good part is that every line has an explanation and that anyone shoudl be able to figure the final number with a modicum of work. </p>
<p>The bad wrap usually comes from people who expected ... a better EFC! :)</p>
<p>Obviously, the same cannot be said about what happens in the dark hole where one send the CSS Profile form.</p>
<p>We did not fill out the fafsa, but I did have a hard copy. It might take some time but I agree w/Xiggi- it "is not a nightmare". We did run into a dad who boasted he paid only $300 for someone to do it. I thought I could better use that $ at a sale.</p>
How many people are both too busy//their time is worth too much to fill out FAFSA forms, yet still qualify for FinAid?
<p>you missed my point -- the time/expertise involved is not in filling out the forms, it's in understanding the subtleties of EFC determination, based on, for example, federal and institutional interpretation of asset ownership and knowing what/when/how to manage income and assets. To give a very simple example, a college fund held in the student's name is assessed at a much higher rate than the same $$ held under the parents' name and not at all in a grandparent's name. For families where none of this relevant, no special expertise is needed, but if you've put all your savings in junior's college fund you're in for a surprise.</p>
<p>Celloguy, those are apples and oranges. The FAFSA asks the questions and is very precise about how to answer them. The elements that you introduce have more to do with financial planning than filling the FAFSA form. By the time the form is due, the financial planning should have been done. If funds were in the name of the student, they will indeed be assessed at a different rate, but that should not be surprise for anyone, as this type information is widely available, starting with many discussions on College Confidential.</p>
<p>The mere filing of the form is one thing. Working with a financial planner to ascertain one's financial aid possibilities, or simply let your fingers do the research on the internet is another. For the record, I was able to build a spreadsheet calculator by simply using the guidelines published by the federal government. No surprises ... and a EFC defined to the penny at a cost of less than that! </p>
<p>PS Institutional interpretations of financial aid are not relevant to the FAFSA and the calculation of the Federal EFC. FAFSA only uses the Federal Methodology.</p>
<p>ziggi, I see where you're coming from, but I've attended one of the workshops the OP is referring to, sponsored by the UC system, and the private company she's referring to does much more than fill out the forms -- they advise families how to reorganize their finances for maximum financial aid. Sorry if that was unclear. I did my best to explain it (twice).</p>
<p>My parents went to an info session for one of those companies, and then to a free consultation, but the people said they didn't think there was anything they could do with our (slightly odd) financial situation. At least they were honest. My mom seemed to do fine with filling out the paperwork, once she found all the information she needed.</p>
<p>Get a book and/or search the CC financial site for the basics of financial planning/asset management to maximize financial aid - after that filling out the forms is not that bad, and you can correct the Profile, you have to fax them the changes, and they change it.</p>
<p>A $20 book and some research will teach you all you need to know.</p>
"Get a book and/or search the CC financial site for the basics of financial planning/asset management to maximize financial aid - after that filling out the forms is not that bad, and you can correct the Profile, you have to fax them the changes, and they change it.</p>
<p>A $20 book and some research will teach you all you need to know."
<p>Good advice. Be cautious about the CC financial site as much of its information is mistaken and/or outdated. Laws regarding 529s, for example, changed this year.</p>
<p>Re correcting the Profile, according to the College Board (which administers Profile), you cannot fax corrections (perhaps you had a different experience?) Here's what's on the site:</p>
Once you submit your PROFILE, you cannot revise your information online. Any changes must be sent directly to your colleges or programs.
<p>That's not a huge deal unless you mistakenly submit facts/figures to Profile that you'd rather not share with the colleges.</p>
<p>I guess my take on this is not going to be popular here. I do agree that the financial aid forms SHOULD be filled out by the parents. A dry run ideally should be done a few years before the big year to see how things could be changed to benefit the results. And for me, the hardest part of the process is gathering all of the information, and this goes for tax filings as well. Once you do that, actually filling out the form is not so bad. But there are a surprising number of people who have trouble doing this paperwork. They hate it so much, dread it so much that they sometimes just do not do it. This can adversely affect family finances and college choices. If $1000 can get someone on the roll to get the form filled out and filed, it could be a cheap price and a good investment. It might even be a catalyst for self filing in future years and future kids. This is not an answer you will find in advice columns as they uniformly pan these services. But there are circumstances when that is the best solution if it means less stress and getting the job done.</p>
<p>cptofthehouse (interesting), you've made a good point about getting the FA app job done for folks who might procrastinate too long -- I know a few who have lost out because of it. I suspect that's why our UC campus provides free family workshops and invites a private FA consultant. The FA officers at UCSB make a huge effort to get everybody informed, to the point of handholding those who need that. They give frequent workshops in both English and Spanish (roughly half D's HS is first-generation Mexican American). For many people, the whole FA process is strange and new and they have no idea that they might be able to afford an expensive private college for their gifted kids. I think some of our CC posters live in a different world.</p>
<p>Hmmm, well, I have no formal education beyond tenth grade; I own real estate, two vehicles and have savings, investment and retirement accounts, and D has savings and small investments, and I had no problem at all filling out the FAFSA and the Profile. The only issue I had was actually sitting still long enough to do it - it's boring. But it's not even slightly difficult. </p>
<p>I can't imagine paying someone else to do it, and certainly not $1,000. It takes maybe two hours total if one goes about it very carefully and methodically - so $500 an hour???? Renewal years it takes even less time. </p>
<p>As far as financial planning, that's an iterative process that comes way before as others have said, and the planning needs to be in place well before the first year of financial aid applications. </p>
<p>I do think it is VERY worthwhile to have workshops and other ways to help inform parents about the financial aid process, however, in my opinion charging $1,000 is being inappropriately opportunistic.</p>
<p>latetoschool, sounds like you're on top of things, well-prepared and capable. You didn't go to college so presumably never dealt with FA before your D's applications. I'm curious how you learned about wise asset management well in advance of the initial FA year (guidance counselor, college-prep books, CC?). You say your D has savings and investments -- did her college take a lion's share? Did you make any mistakes first time around, or was EFC the mimimum hoped for?</p>