Ever been in a class and thought, when am I ever going to use this? Well, you’re not the only one. Don’t get me wrong learning algebra and American literature do help in establishing a great foundation for you to build on.
It’s always useful to have the necessary skills needed to properly handle money and to understand the endless book references of the Scarlett Letter and Pride and Prejudice in movies; but, what about the other things school should’ve taught us?
What about how to complete your first FAFSA? Establishing credit? Rules for building a Savings?
Those are some of the things that young adults usually learn as they go after unnecessary hassle. This post is all about helping to curve some of that hassle by explaining a few of the things that school never taught us.
What the Hell is a FAFSA?
FAFSA is the free application for federal student aid. It is prepared annually by current and prospective college students by both undergraduate and graduate students in the US to determine their eligibility for student financial aid. Basically…it is an application you fill out online asking the government to help loan you money for school.
“What the hell is a fafsa?” That was the question I asked when my honors English classmates began discussing college and the things they needed to take care of; FAFSA was on that list. Here’s the thing. I sorta fell into college. It sounds crazy but it’s the truth. I was accepted through a high school program under preliminary circumstances and it just took off from there.
To be honest, college was not something that my household really talked about. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do so I decided to go to college as a last minute answer to “So…what are you doing after you graduate?”
The problem was the steps to take on this decision weren’t readily explained to me. Once I realized I needed to have FAFSA completed for college it was late in my second semester as a HS senior so I got a hasty explanation from my counselor who actually did it for me. The second semester of freshman year I was screwed because I didn’t know how to do it on my own or the passcodes she used for my account.
But I hope this helps! Here’s some tips on how to handle FAFSA:
1. https://www.fafsa.ed.gov this link will lead you to the website you use to fill out your forms or to just take a look around the website
2. First semester HS seniors should make an appointment with school guidance counselors to get more information and to get a jump on the FAFSA process. Honestly, HS Juniors should do the same.
3. You’re going to need your parent’s latest tax forms if you are considered a dependent. If you’re an independent student (not your parent’s financial dependent) you will fill as such
4. Write down your passwords and PINs so that you will remember them when you have to fill FAFSA out again. (If you or your parent filed your taxes electronically you may have the option to auto fill your forms through the IRS website)
5. It helps to request a tax transcript through the IRS if you’re unsure about tax information
6. FAFSA should be done every January if you plan to go to school the following school year. (It helps to put a reminder in your phone or on your calendar so you won’t forget)
7. After applying, a reward statement will be sent to you from your chosen higher education institution to let you know how much money the government is willing to give you for school. Loans and scholarship information will be documented on this statement.
FAFSA or “financial aid” is not free money. If the student is rewarded something like the PELL Grant or Life/Hope scholarship then that money is yours to put towards your education without having to worry about paying it back.
But, statements that show subsidized or un-subsidize loans should be treated as a such. Don’t, I repeat DO NOT blow your loan money on things other than your education because you will have to pay that money back to Navient formerly known as and un-affectionately called Sallie Mae.
Don’t get discouraged. Tax forms and online websites can feel a little overwhelming but when in doubt ask someone who knows. Ask someone from your church, school faulty or use the links below to help you in the process.
The following info will help you better understand FAFSA:
Federal Student Aid help center: 1-800-433-3243
Establishing Good Credit
When you’re young the LAST thing on your mind is building credit. Credit is the ability of a customer to obtain goods or services before payment, based on the trust that payment will be made in the future.
You will need credit in most cases to buy a car, to purchase your first house, sometimes to stay in a nice apartment complex, or even to ask for certain loans through your banks. Establishing good credit practices while you’re young can open a lot of doors for you when you’re older. Here’s a list on how to do just that…
1. Pay your bills on time. It sounds cliché but honestly, getting in the habit of paying your bills on time will not only establish good credit but also establish good money practices.
2. Live within your means; this sounds like common sense because it is. By living within your means you will have an easier time paying your bills without too many unwanted money issues.
3. Get a bill or item in your name. For example, I brought a car and had the money to pay it in full but I chose to finance a portion of the vehicle. I put a hefty down payment on it, negotiated a very low interest rate and put the money I would’ve paid it off with in a savings account.
I then set up where the bank I borrowed from automatically receives my car payment on time so that I’m establishing a good credit history. You can also begin doing this with any student loans you may have taken out before you graduate. There are student loan forgiveness programs that require a minimum of steady payment for about two years before they consider forgiving your loans.
You don’t have to wait until you graduate to start paying. The benefit of this is that there is no interest accruing while you’re in school and you’d establish credit and good payment history.
4. Check your credit history and score at least once a year to ensure no identity theft is taking place and no bills have gone unnoticed and unpaid. As young adults we rarely have anything outside a phone bill or student loans in our name; still, it is important to develop the habit of checking your credit report to ensure no funny business is happening.
There’s only one place to safely do that:
Stay tuned for more posts that serve young adults starting out in life. High School did a lot of things but sometimes preparing you for the nuances of adult life isn’t one of them. Vol. 2 will touch on how to open a banking and savings account and understanding the military enlistment process. #LETSBUILD