<p>I thought the FAFSA was quite simple and straitforward. But then I thought our EFC of $80,000+ was wildly high.</p>
<p>that would be a shock originaloog</p>
<p>I thought the FAFSA was worse than federal taxes
but then I am used to having a software program for my federal and state taxes- and the FAFSA site with dial up was verrry slow.</p>
<p>Also the worksheets- were a little confusing- D had a living stipend & we weren't quite sure where to add it in- we finally were told where- but not by her school financial aid office.</p>
<p>So we had it in the right place- the office changed it- which changed our EFC ( yes- they can do that)- we had to contact the person who first helped us, to then explain it to them ( it was a fairly new and unusual thing), then we were able to change it back.
But I doubt if paying $1000 would have gotten us any new information.</p>
<p>Celloguy, in our case the EFC was a non issue due to merit aid, and from junior year forward the athletic department picked up what merit money did not, including books. I still had to continue filing of course, and am not sure if I will have to continue filing if the student in question applies to and is accepted to a grad school or law school program.</p>
<p>But I wasn't even slightly prepared - D came home with a file provided by the high school college counselor; it contained forms and a schedule of due dates for various required actions, and paper copies of the FAFSA and CSS were included. I said something like "what's this stuff" followed by something like "you're kidding, right?". My recollection is that I filled the documents out the weekend before the due dates, but, they weren't even slightly difficult - you just answer the questions. How hard is that? </p>
<p>As to asset management, let's just say that having very little money when one's child is very young tends to make one rather obsessive about leveraging it for maximum benefit, and studying college costs tends to make one want to earn lots more money rather rapidly. Of course, such obsession tends to lead one to other behaviors that support growing financial assets rather nicely. </p>
<p>We DID have a bit of an error once - sophomore year, I sent D instructions via email to populate the fields on the FAFSA related to the student, and to sign it electronically. She somehow messed it up and populated the fields for parent income with the numbers related to her income, which in turn provoked a flood of communication from the college that included questions about how much I spend on groceries, etc. I found the new inquiries really weird and extraordinary, especially given my income, and asked D "why does your college think we're starving???". One call to the college, I figured it out and corrected everything. It was more entertaining than problematic.</p>
<p>I can understand - and fully support - counseling, assisting and guiding parents with this type of preparation. That's exactly how this forum works come to think of it - post a question, someone who knows will answer it, and post a source link to support their answer. </p>
<p>Charging for financial advice and asset management strategy if one is a CPA or certified financial planner or tax counsel - that I can see, and agree it makes sense, and is probably critical once one's assets cross a certain threshhold. But charging $1,000 to fill out the FAFSA and Profile? Nope. That stikes me as predatory.</p>
<p>It's like doing your own tax returns.</p>
<p>IF your financial situation is simple then the forms are not too bad. Personally , I've found it to be a royal pain. In particular, I've found it to be a bit of a burden amassing and analyzing all of our asset information. we've got a lot of little stuff in different places. So for me, the complexity is not the forms per se, but compiling the data. It is more like mortgage application data than tax return data.</p>
<p>I've done the filings myself this past few years, but I wish I had someone to do it for me, and IMO $1,000 is not tremendously out of line for what I've got to deal with, if advice is included. </p>
<p>On second thought, it probably is a bit steep. Depending on the amount and utitlity of the advisory aspect.</p>
<p>Still though, I would certainly pay something.</p>
<p>I'm doing 2 of these: one for us, one for my daughter. In a year it will be three.</p>
<p>I can see where some advice could make a big difference in some cases. A few years prior, though.</p>
<p>EK, it takes me probably 20 hours to do my taxes including gathering all the required info and going thru the years bills and checks to make sure all deductibles were accounted for. And yes I too use TaxCut.</p>
<p>As I recall the FAFSA took me about an hour and all of the income inputs referred to our 1040 Forms. The only other amounts were easily obtained from our latest brokerage reports.</p>
<p>Special situations like yours can complicate things a wee bit. However most families do not encounter such situations. In your case was the living stipend to cease once your daughter started college? If that were the case I would have been inclined to omit it from the FAFSA altogether and if questioned chalked it up to an honest mistake. It doesnt seem fair to include an income stream which will dry up once the tuition bills begin coming in the mail. However if the instruction made it clear that it had to be included I would of course included it.</p>
<p>My point in simply stating that the FAFSA was in fact a piece of cake is to give new families assurances that it is relatively simple. I know in our guidances sessions open to hs students and parents, FAFSA was characterized as one of the high hurddles during the entire process. It turned out to be nothing of the sort.</p>
<p>The students at the college I work with mostly fill out the FAFSA themselves. They are almost all low-income, many minority, many with first gen parents who don't read English. I often preside over group fill-them-out sessions in our computer lab. It 's hectic, but they all get through it okay. Sometimes they're missing info and I'll send them home with qustions for parents, but eventually, they get it done. They have no choice, if they want to stay in school. $1000 would be more than their EFCs in many cases.</p>
<p>no I agree that the FAFSA can be gotten through- but I can also see where some might be intimidated.
THe living stipend bit was from when she took her volunteer year before she entered college, there is a place on FAFSA where it is added in, but then subtracted again from available income on the income exclusion portion of the worksheet.
My point was just that the financial aid office had made an error in dealing with it- which isn't going to be usual, but it does happen.</p>
<p>celloguy - I agree that you have be careful with info on CC - I found a good overview of asset management advice for financial aid purposes, I believe at finaid.org and a book we bought. But, I did learn from CC that you can change/correct your Profile - here is part of the email I received from collegeboard regarding my inquiry about how to correct the Profile from an early action application submission in November to actual numbers in January.</p>
<p>"You can print a copy of your PROFILE Acknowledgement, make the changes on the print out and fax the changes to the College Board at (305)816-3002.
24 hours after you have faxed your revisions you can log back onto your
Acknowledgement to view the changes, then add your schools."</p>