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Beginning this week, we will kick off a series of FAFSA-related articles that will visit topics and scenarios related to financial aid, navigating the FAFSA process, how your income or your taxes play into the FAFSA and important dates for timely form filing. Piggy_bank_FAFSA.jpg

Piggy_bank_FAFSA.jpgFrom divorced parents, to income variances, to which college savings plan is right for your family, we’ll address these topics and much more. This series is a great resource for parents preparing to send their child to college or degree-seeking adults entering the education marketplace.

FAFSA: The Nitty and the Gritty
First in a series

We all have our favorite seasons – spring, summer, baseball, football. As a CPA, I have tax season, and, if you are parent of a college-bound student, you know all too well, it is FAFSA season. Why should an event that seems invasive, confusing, and stressful be given such a lofty ranking?  How about a chance at free money?

However, filling out the FAFSA can be a confusing process, from understanding deadlines to required information. I have many clients who want to ensure they fully understand the FAFSA and know their CPA can be a helpful resource when they are working to secure financial aid. 

Related read: Tax Strategies for College Students of Higher Income Taxpayers

For both current and prospective college students, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the essential tool for finding ways to afford the ever-increasing cost of a college education.  In fact, without it, most financial aid options are slammed shut!

I can almost hear you saying that the process for filling the FAFSA out is second in pain only to a trip to the dentist.  Not true!  The application process is not nearly as daunting as many believe it to be and generally takes less than 30 minutes to complete.

FAFSA...but why?

Any student looking for any type of financial aid, from scholarships down to work study opportunities, and even student loans, will be required to complete the FAFSA.  So, every student who wants or needs help paying for college must complete the FAFSA online at  No exceptions. 

A common misconception that many students have is that their parents make too much money to qualify for any financial assistance, so there is no need to complete the FAFSA.  While it is possible, due to income or asset levels, that federal need-based assistance may not be available, the FAFSA must typically be completed for a student to be considered for virtually all state, school, or privately-sponsored financial aid.  Federal aid is available, but do not forget that significant financial aid is awarded from other sources that will require the FAFSA to be completed.

In my next article, I'll address some of the deadlines and dates that one should keep in mind when preparing to file a FAFSA. In the meantime, if you have any questions about how your income or your tax situation affects your FAFSA, contact me. I'm here to help and ready to start the conversation. Email me at or 216.831.0733.