COLUMN: Giving me a run for my money

Applying for financial aid shouldn't be this hard

I am a:
[ ] Man
[ ] Woman
[X] College student
Looking for:
[ ] Men
[ ] Women
[X] An easy way to fill out the FAFSA

I’m graduating in December, and I’m pretty excited to be done with college. Not because I want to be done with classes. Oh, no.

It’s because I want to be done with filling out the damn FAFSA.

Filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid is, by far, one of the most stressful college experiences I’ve had to endure thus far. Sure, my capstone was hard, but begging a government entity to give me money that I know I won’t receive? Way harder.

I come from your standard middle class family. We have a good amount of money, but I still certainly needed a lot of help paying for college. We could pay extra for some things; we’d buy Starbucks coffee instead of McDonald’s coffee, and we prefer trucks that run on diesel instead of gasoline. We could splurge when we wanted to, but we couldn’t afford to pay for my entire degree out of pocket.

However, FAFSA doesn’t see this. The way they look at it, because my family gets multiple toppings on our pizza, and because we own two working refrigerators, there’s no way in HELL we need help paying for college!!!


Okay, so I know FAFSA isn’t going to give me any money, so I just don’t have to fill it out, right? After all, it’s not worth spending a bunch of time on this process when a FAFSA employee is just going to give me all of the loose change he has in his car cup holder and then spit in my face, right?


Instead, in order to apply for student loans, the FAFSA has to be filled out already. OK, whatever.

Except I’ve consistently had issues filling it out each year, and every time, I seriously consider dropping out of college to become a clown.

Why is it so complicated? I don’t know. You’d think it would be relatively simple to submit, especially considering every single student has to do so. But each time, it looks like I’m reading hieroglyphics and I’m constantly being asked for information that I couldn’t possibly know how to provide.

Once, when my dad and I were filling it out, he accidentally enrolled himself in college. And no, I’m not kidding.

Another time, I had successfully filled it out but apparently it never fully submitted (even after I hit “submit”) and I had no idea until all of my classes were dropped because it never went through.

I understand why it has to be so extensive. Taking out student loans is a pretty serious deal, and the applicant should be required to provide detailed information for such a thing. However, the process is not user-friendly in the slightest. I’m lucky to have parents who are able to help me with it, but if I didn’t, I would be SOL. I can imagine other people are in the same boat, too.

I don’t know, maybe I’m just stupid. Maybe natural selection will kill me off because I can’t successfully apply for financial aid without shedding some tears and flipping some tables.

And if that’s the case, fine. At least I’ll never have to hear the phrase “unsubsidized loan” ever again.