Never Heard of FAFSA? Just Wait!

Greetings friends!  If you are the parents of a college bound junior in high school, seek shelter immediately, for a storm is creeping close.  Senior year is a wonderful time for most teenagers, filled with new experiences and the promise of freedom from those hard working people who raised them.  For Mom and Dad, a child’s twelfth year of education is a dizzying array of forms, financial chaos and finding a somewhat affordable university fit for your beloved offspring.

The merriment begins with FAFSA, a brutish ogre of a document which must be completed if you would like Uncle Sam to share in your fiscal misery. From the moment I read the directions on the FAFSA website I sensed that I was embarking on a long journey to nowhere.  The more I wandered through the form, the darker the road became.  I thought I had successfully conquered the FAFSA several times, yet, just as I thought I had reached daylight, FAFSA would rear its head and spit out another email, returning me to the dank forest which I thought I had escaped.

FAFSA kept insisting that my son must have had some income in 2009, challenging the zero I had entered for his earnings. Clearly, if FAFSA had they ever met Will, they would immediately understand. Sleep, food, and friends leave little time for labor.  To him “Jobs” is the guy who invented the iPod. For me FAFSA stood for “Forget About Finding Some Aid.”  After five attempts, I emmerged shaken but victorious.  Or so I thought.

For some reason, last year, of all years, I picked to have my best sales year ever.  When I am not writing for this wonderful newspaper, I am one of those traveling peddlers who earn three quarters of his paycheck through commission sales. Although most of my wages are far from guaranteed from month to month, FAFSA has decided to slot me with Donald Trump when it comes to financial aid.  No soup for me, not even an empty bowl!  Sadly, I can’t even seem to succeed correctly!  Success, my friends, has bitten me three feet below the back of my neck, as irony devours the rest of my ravaged carcass.

Accepting that I will still be paying off my son’s education with my Walmart greeters check at age 97, I scheduled a few school visits around the spring break vacation period.  We first visited a private school in North Carolina who had interest in Will as a baseball player.  Our next stop was California.  No, not that California… California, Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania appears to have an odd habit of naming their towns after other states.  California, Pennsylvania is around forty-five minutes east of Pittsburgh, not far from Indiana, Pennsylvania.  Talk about confusing.  During my sixth hour of driving I noticed a sign for Washington, Pennsylvania!  Had I fallen into some kind of parallel universe or was this another trick conjured up by FAFSA to finish me off?  Regaining my composure, I passed a sign for Roanoke, Pennsylvania and realized that it was just those sneaky Pennsylvanians again, making off with our town’s name.

Currently my brave wife Janet is handling senior pictures, band pictures, baseball pictures and every other overpriced likeness of our boy that one is required to purchased as proof that your child attended high school.  She is also taken command of the graduation party, prom arrangements, and every other facet of Will’s final march through Patrick Henry.  With all that she does, battling FAFSA doesn’t seem so bad after all.

At press time, Will is leaning towards attending Cal U in Pennsylvania and playing some baseball as well.  The entire experience has been eye-opening, yet I caution you parents of underclassmen to start on your college planning now and try not to overachieve too much on the job.  FAFSA is watching.

By Jon Kaufman
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