Mary Kolbenschlag
July 2020

Paying For College In A Pandemic

You prepped. You planned. You saved.
You were feeling confident that you could pay for your child's education. No student loans. Yay!  And then there was COVID.
Volatile markets due to the pandemic completely shifted many of our financial situations. Our financial fitness for the upcoming college years has completely changed. Now the question is:
How do we navigate paying for college in this uncertain time?
You never planned on having your student apply for Federal Student Aid, but let's face it, it's time to explore all options. Applying for student aid is a relatively simple process, but it's important to be prepared, organized and on time!

How To Prepare For FAFSA

In order to prepare to financially support your son’s education it is important to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid - FAFSA ( as soon as it opens on October 1st.  The FAFSA is easy and fast as it links to your Federal Income taxes and autofills.  In order to start FAFSA on October 1st, you and your son will need to create separate FAFSA IDs ( to be associated with your account so you can both electronically sign.  This FAFSA ID needs to be created 3-5 business days prior to starting the application so that it can be approved.  Remember to apply as early as possible since money runs out!

What You Need To Apply

When you are ready to start the FAFSA process you will need some important documents on hand prior to filling out the application.

  • Your driver’s license number 
  • Federal tax information or tax returns for both your son and yourselves for 2018 as a reference. FAFSA should autofill if you have filed your 2018 tax return.
  • Records of any untaxed income including: child support, alimony, interest income and veterans non-education benefits.
  • Information on your current assets including checking and savings accounts, stocks and bonds, real estate (not including the home you live in).
  • Important: You cannot use your 2019 tax information. For some families, 2018 income doesn’t accurately reflect your current financial situation. If you have experienced a reduction in income since the 2018 tax year, you should complete the FAFSA form with 2018 information, and then contact each of the schools to which you’re applying to explain and document the change in income. Schools have the ability to assess your situation and adjust your FAFSA form if warranted.   You may add up to 10 schools when applying for the FAFSA. 

Write A Financial Aid Appeal

If you are unsuccessful in getting the school to recognize your financial need initially, you can write a financial aid appeal letter. This is a one page letter explaining your situation with documentation and clearly stating what you need financially from the school.  

Again, it is important to do all of this as early as possible before the Federal Government and Universities run out of funds!

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