Next fall, the oldest of my great-nieces will start college. How did this happen? Yesterday she was running around her backyard on a stick horse. I feel so fortunate that I am in a position to help her get through the myriad of forms she will need for college smoothly and easily. Because no matter how hard we try, the Financial Aid Office continues to be the scariest place on campus.
Yes, we know we’re fun, helpful and full of great advice. But sadly, just coming to or calling the office can strike fear into even the most intrepid students and parents. We’re not alone. Places like car dealerships and the IRS are scary too. Part of this is just due to the nature of the beast. Most students who contact us don’t even know what to ask. Most of the other offices on our campuses don’t understand what we do either. They just drop students on our doorsteps with the words “these good people will help you”.
And then we take over. We put their minds at ease and guide them through the process. We send follow-up letters and emails. And we give great advice.
- File your FAFSA early
- Use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool
- Read everything
- Ask us questions if you don’t understand (not your room-mate’s cousin’s babysitter)
- Don’t borrow unless you have to
And the list goes on.
But isn’t it always a great feeling when, after helping someone complete the FAFSA, they say “That’s it? That was easy!” And we see the stress leave their faces. It’s that feeling that gets us out of bed in the morning even when our pets don’t insist on it.
And what advice do we give each other that keeps us going? Well some of that probably shouldn’t be printed in a blog. JK. But one of the best pieces I’ve heard recently is: You won’t learn all of financial aid in a day, week, month or a year but understanding why you do it is the first step!
I’m so blessed to do what I do every day! I hope you have a wonderful day too!
Association News Committee Member, Wyoming