A quiz for the dinner table! Ask your student to quiz you, or see if they are hearing (and absorbing) this information at school.
1. True or false: the FAFSA is the only financial aid form to worry about.
False. While it is true that everyone should fill out the FAFSA, there is one other form that is required by about 250 colleges. This is the CSS/Profile, which is accessed through the College Board. This form goes into a lot more detail about your household financial situation, and the due date will vary by school and application type.
2. True or false: I shouldn't bother to fill out the FAFSA because we make too much money. I won't qualify for aid anyway.
False. Some schools will require a FAFSA to qualify for loans, and you never actually know what kind of aid you'll qualify for unless you fill it out. And, if your circumstances change, you will already be in the system.
3. True or false: Cost of Attendance (COA) gives me a good idea of how much it will cost to go to school.
Both. COA includes tuition, room & board and fees, so it should be inclusive. However, this is also the "sticker" price, and is not necessarily a reflection of what your family might pay.
4. True or false: I got a College-Bound scholarship, so I don't need to apply for any other scholarships.
False. College-Bound covers tuition, but nothing else. Applying for other aid will not jeopardize those funds, and other scholarships can fill in the gaps for you.
5. True or false: the financial aid statement from the school will include expenses, scholarships, grants, and loans I qualify for.
True. The school's report will show the total cost of attendance, any scholarships (merit aid) your student has qualified for, and any government loans your family qualifies for. These loans will not include any private loan situation you might be considering.
6. True or false: Stafford loans are for families with financial need.
Both. Subsidized Stafford loans, which do not accrue interest while you attend school, are offered based on financial need. Unsubsidized Stafford loans, which start accruing interest as soon as the funds are dispersed, are non-need based. We know Shorewood families who have had their student take out the Stafford loan even though they do not strictly need to so that their student has "some skin in the game" and realizes that he or she has a real financial obligation to fulfill after college. (See this rundown of Federal Student Aid for details on Stafford and other loans.)
7. What is the deadline for the FAFSA?
This may be school-dependent. Washington's deadline is "as soon after January 1 as possible." Check the financial aid or admissions calendars of the schools you're applying to.
8. True or false: I can't do the FAFSA until my taxes are done.
False. You can estimate and go back to update the information. It is more important to complete the form early (and as accurately as possible) than to wait until you have exact information. (Note: for senior families anticipating college in 2016-17, the FAFSA will be filled out with estimated 2015 information. However, for 2017-18, the FAFSA will be based on prior year actual information--so this year's junior families will use 2015 actual tax information and will be able to start filling out the FAFSA in October 2016.)
9. Student assets are better than parent assets, because kids can't really be expected foot the whole bill.
False. Student assets are weighted more heavily than parent assets, so keeping funds in your name is preferable to setting up trusts or accounts in your student's name.
10. You are stuck with whatever financial aid decision you get.
False. Especially if your circumstances change, you can contact the admissions office to see if they can reconsider your awards. They won't be able to forgive costs completely, but a lot of schools have some leeway to help families out.