Vol 1: Issue 5  |  Home   

VOLUME 1 - ISSUE 5


FAFSA -- Completing It Successfully...

Filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) can be done two ways; you can use the traditional paper method, or fill it out online through the U.S. Dept. of Education's FAFSA on the Web at... http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.

The FAFSA web site has detailed instructions on how to fill out both paper and online forms. They also indicate that it's much faster and easier to fill the form out online, as you'll find built-in guides and edits that help you through the process, and the schools will receive and process your information much more quickly.

Another good reason for applying online is, if you applied for aid in 2005-06, you might not have to complete an entire FAFSA for 2006-07. You might be able to use a renewable FAFSA which is pre-filled with some of your personal data that might not have changed from the previous year, and it's available at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.

So if you decide to file your FAFSA electronically, go to the U.S. DOE website at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/before001.htm

You'll have the option of setting up a PIN (Personal Identification Number) that will serve as your signature and help speed up the process of the form. Your parents can also apply for a PIN and sign electronically. If you're not comfortable with the PIN numbers you can just print out and mail in the signature page of the form.
If you're more comfortable with completing a paper FAFSA, get an application from the school you plan to attend, your high school counselor, local library or contact the FSAIC at 1-800-4-FED AID (1-800-433-3243).

Regardless of how you choose to complete the FAFSA, here are a few helpful hints on what you'll need and how to best complete the FAFSA...

First... Gather all your (and your parents' if applicable) pertinent records to help you answer questions on the application...

  • Driver's license
  • Social Security number
  • Permanent Resident Card (if applicable)
  • W-2 and other records of money earned for 2005
  • All sources of taxed/untaxed income (Social Security, welfare, veteran's benefits, etc...)
  • 2005 income tax return
  • Child support records paid
  • Mortgage papers and/or rent payments
  • Records showing owned properties
  • Current bank and investment statements
  • If you're a dependent student (as determined from quest 48-54), all records above should be from your parents, except for your driver's license

Read all the instructions carefully, and don't forget those applying to worksheets A, B & C.

Complete only the required questions... easy enough on the online FAFSA form, but don't add anything on the paper form that isn't requested, as you'll only delay the processing of the form. The instructions aren't complicated; in fact, the federal government states they're the easiest to understand since 1991. If you have any doubts regarding any question, contact the college(s) you're planning to attend or one of the following FAFSA websites:

US Department of Education... FAFSA on the Web
http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/

Completing the FAFSA... Home Page
http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/completing_fafsa/index.html

Free Application for Federal Student Aid... FAFSA
http://studentaid.ed.gov/PORTALSWebApp/students/english/fafsa.jsp

If you have financial circumstances that aren't represented on the FAFSA, contact the school's financial aid department and request a Special Circumstances Form. The financial information on the special circumstance form is forwarded to the schools and will allow their financial aid staff to accurately assess your true financial situation.

Be sure to check the FAFSA application deadlines for each school you're applying to: Go online to the school's website or call the school's financial aid or admissions office. REMEMBER TO SEND your FAFSA based on the earliest FAFSA deadline date or as soon as possible after January 1, 2006.

If you don't know the school codes, or aren't sure of the codes, you can look them up on the Federal School Search Code at http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/fotw0607/fslookup.htm.
When all is completed, double check for errors, then print or make copies of each page along with all your financial documents in case the school and/ or state requests verification or misplaces your forms.

If you're sending in a paper FAFSA, don't mail the FAFSA by any means other than normal US First Class, as Priority, two-day, Fed Ex, etc... mailings only guarantee your FAFSA will be returned.

 

College Survival Tips... Maintaining your Health...

Establish and maintain an exercise routine. Playing a sport, joining a swim team or a dance class can help clear your head and keep you balanced in the often stressful juggle of school work, studies, family life, friends, and just life in general. If, however, exercise has the same appeal as sticking needles in your eyes... then just walk... walk to classes, walk as much as you can or... bike... sit on your tuckus and bike wherever and whenever possible.

Learn some simple deep-breathing and stretching exercises as one of the easiest means of decreasing stress and helping you to relax. If your school has health classes or specifically trained counselors that can teach you to relax, take advantage of them. Once you master the techniques, choose a specific time to relax daily. (And no, relaxing by sucking down a few beers, etc, doesn't count).

Eat balanced meals (no, beer and cold pizza don't cut it, nor do chips and soda). The old adage that "you are what you eat" is accurate. The more junk food you consume, the more your body's functions will change to adapt to the lack of proper vitamins, minerals and other elements while attempting to adapt to food it shouldn't eat on a regular basis.

Sleep... This is always easier to say than do with the hectic schedules we lead today, but getting enough sleep each night is very important, as sleep regenerates your body and restores your sense of well being. Getting a deep, natural sleep (8 hours best, 5 - 6 hours minimum) every evening is very important. On the same note, napping is also a good idea, as sometimes a 5, 15 or 30 minute nap is just the thing needed to recharge your batteries and help you feel refreshed. Remember, naps aren't only for afternoons. A short midmorning, mid-afternoon or early evening nap, (or all three) could be the perfect solution for you when you're stressed and worn out.

If, after following all of the tips above, you're still not feeling well, don't be shy; check out the health specialists (dieticians, nutritionists, etc) at the infirmary or health clinic at your school. Since they've seen many students suffering from the effects of poor sleep habits and diet, they'll be well equipped to help you out with helpful hints suited to your needs.

 

Real Life College Horror Stories...

Imagine discovering that you and another student have the same first name -- though spelled differently -- and the exact same last name. Now imagine finding out you'll both be completing your sophomore year in May.

To this unique set of parameters, add staff incompetence (Bursars and Financial Aid Offices), magnified by an employee's inability to input a student's proper social security number. To complete this preventable disaster scenario, one sophomore's EFC (Expected Family Contribution) is too high, (eligible for only a Stafford Loan), while the other sophomore's EFC qualifies him for state, federal and institutional financial aid.

Both sophomores received their SAR's and each expected his respective financial aid package to match last year's save for the junior level eligibility increase in their Stafford loans ($3,500.00 to $5,500.00).

It's not hard to imagine what happened in May of their sophomore years. Despite the final SAR figures being transmitted to the school, our two students received each other's tentative financial aid award package. One household was excited: Their out-of-pocket expenses were minimal; the other household became depressed, frustrated and angry because they couldn't afford to send their son to school.

After four faxes, two e-mail letters, two regular letters, and a visit to the school's bursars and financial aid offices, the proper financial aid awards were finally awarded in July to the proper student.

The mental anguish this mistake generated was thorough. One family suffered for nearly three months, while the other family's shock and suffering began in July as they scrambled for the necessary funds to pay for their son's junior year.

A note to the wise... if at any point in time you receive letters, forms and documents with your name and social security number not matching up... Contact the School ASAP!

 

Breaking News...

In Legislation completed over the past few weeks, Congress approved two major appropriations bills affecting colleges and cut $12.7-billion from the federal student-loan programs.

The University of Michigan has become the second major university (NYU the first) to stop selling Coca-Cola products after reaching an impasse with the company over calls for investigations into its labor practices in Colombia and its environmental practices in India.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. of Maryland is seeking $1.4-billion in state funds for higher education in 2007, a $172-million increase. His proposal includes a 14.5% increase for the University System of Maryland.

Third-Year Law Students come to class less prepared, are less likely to discuss legal issues outside the classroom, and work less hard than their first and second year counterparts, according to the Law School Survey of Student Engagement, a national survey released just recently.

The Number of Students whose racial or ethnic classification is listed as "unknown" in reports that colleges submit to the federal government nearly doubled over a 10-year period, a study has found.

Education Can Be a Gift, as schools remind people when they promote gift certificates to cover tuition and other school expenses. Pima County Community College, in Arizona, is one of a handful of colleges that offer such certificates.

College Football Players in this season's bowl games were allowed to keep gifts worth up to $500, an increase of $150 from the year before, thanks to a rules change by the National Collegiate Athletic Association. The bowls responded, doling out such sought-after gear as video-game consoles and video iPods.

 

Campus Humor...

The Pay's Lousy, but... British researchers in psychology have found that professional artists and poets, whether male or female, have twice as many sex partners as the rest of us, according to the Reuters news agency. Scholars at the University of Newcastle Upon Tyne and the Open University, in Britain, said their survey of 425 men and women showed that creativity acts as a sexual magnet.

Daniel Nettle, a psychologist at Newcastle, said there was also a downside: "Poets and artists have more sexual partners, but they also have higher rates of depression."

Human Error: A student-registration form for Tompkins Cortland Community College contained a routine "Civil-Rights Information" checklist with a not-so-routine error, the Ithaca Times reported. Applicants were asked to describe their race as one of the following: African American, Asian, American Indian/Native American, Hispanic, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander, or Human.

Bruce D. Ryan, the college's chief spokesman, said that late in the editing process, as racial categories were being added to the already-crowded form, someone joked, "Maybe instead of having such a long list we should just have the human race." The person typed "Human" in the space where "White" should have appeared and then neglected to delete it, according to the newspaper. All but 1,500 of the 5,000 course-schedule booklets containing the forms were retrieved.

Tompkins Cortland's president, Carl E. Haynes, called the incident "unfortunate, unintentional, and embarrassing," particularly because the college is trying to improve the diversity of its hiring process.

Book Swap: A group at the University of Texas at San Antonio offered to give students adult magazines in exchange for Bibles and other religious texts, MSNBC reported last month. Thomas Jackson, president of Atheist Agenda, said that the Smut for Smut program sought to make a comparison between pornography and "the smut that is religious scripture... the stuff that says a woman is worth half a man, the things that say, you know, you should beat children." Mr. Jackson said the group collected "quite a few" Bibles, including one for worshipers of Satan.

 

Hoping for a Year Without Dawgs or Hunkering Down*...

Each year, Lake Superior State University, Michigan's smallest public university, takes on a literary duty. In a gimmick to get publicity for the institution of approximately 3,000 students, it solicits nominations of words and phrases that don't work or are just plain annoying. "It was during a New Year's party 30 years ago when LSSU Public Relations Director Bill Rabe and some colleagues cooked up a whimsical idea to banish overused words and phrases," according to Tom Pink, Lake Superior's current spokesman. "On Jan. 1, 1976, with ‘tongue firmly in cheek,' Rabe took his first crack at it. Much to the delight (or chagrin) of word enthusiasts everywhere, the list endures into a fourth decade.

"Many people take the list entirely too seriously," he added. "Most recognize it for what it is, though — a humorous look at the language we use and an interesting way for LSSU to gets its name in front of more prospective students."

After last year's tight Presidential race, politics colored the banished word list, with "blue states/red states" and "flip flopper" taking some top honors.

The university has received thousands of nominations for its list of banished words and phrases, which now stands at nearly 800. This year's list of words and explanations, culled by an informal committee from almost 2,000 nominations received largely through the University's website follows:

  • SURREAL — One part opiate of the masses, 13 parts overuse. Oddly, news anchor and television small talk is becoming more surreal. "Dreams are surreal, not daily adjectives." — Tracy from Murray, Ky.
  • HUNKER DOWN — To brace oneself, in anticipation of media onslaught. Trotted out in reports about everything from politics to hurricanes. "I have a hankering to ban all of this hunkering." — Kate Rabe Forgach, Fort Collins, Colo.
  • PERSON OF INTEREST — Found within the context of legal commentary, but seldom encountered at cocktail parties. "People with guns want to talk with you." — Melissa Carroll from Greensboro, N.C.
  • COMMUNITY OF LEARNERS — A five-dollar phrase on a nickel errand. Value-added into many higher education mission statements. "Not to be confused with ‘school.'" — Jim Howard from Mishawa, Ind.
  • UP OR DOWN VOTE — A casualty of today's partisanship. No discussion on this one; the committee just tossed a coin. "I see a bright future for ex-senators as elevator operators." — Allan Dregseth, Fargo, N.D.
  • BREAKING NEWS — Once it stopped presses. Now it's a lower-intestinal condition brought about by eating dinner during newscasts. "Now they have to interrupt my supper to tell me that Katie Holmes is pregnant." — Michael Raczko, Swanton, Ohio.
  • DESIGNER BREED — Many nominators consider this a bastardization of dog breeding. It may be a good line to use on angry neighbors when an un-neutered dog escapes. "When you mate a miniature schnauzer to a toy poodle, it's not a ‘Schnoodle,' it's a mongrel." — George Bullerjahn, Bowling Green, Ohio.
  • FEMA — Dedicated to the memory of a great federal agency consigned to the ash heap of parody. "If they don't do anything, we don't need their acronym." — Josh Hamilton, Tucson, Ariz.
  • FIRST-TIME CALLER — Preamble often heard on talk radio. "I am serious in asking: who in any universe gives a care?" — Miguel McCormick, Orlando, Fla.
  • PASS THE SAVINGS ON TO YOU! — Marketing catch phrase that became a lost-leader long ago. "Read: Pass the markup along to you." — C.W. Estes, Roanoke, Tex.
  • 97% FAT FREE — Adventures in delusion. "Still has 3% fat. . . accept it." — Andrew Clucas, Canberra, Australia.
  • AN ACCIDENT THAT DIDN'T HAVE TO HAPPEN — Best-laid mayhem. "This means some accidents need to happen, for whatever reason, I can't figure." — Thomas Price, Orlando, Fla.
  • JUNK SCIENCE — Banished from the Marketplace of Ideas. "It's not scientists who are using this phrase so much as the people who practice junk politics." — Ron LaLonde, Inuvik, Northwest Territories, Canada.
  • GIT-R-DONE — (Any of its variations) It's overdone. "There's no escaping it. It's everywhere, from TV to T-shirts," says Amanda Tikkanen of LaGrange, Ind. "Please tell me when we're done with this one."
  • DAWG — No designer breed here. Someone should wash out this Spot. "Even parents are starting to use it!" — complains Mrs. Swartz's Fifth Grade Class in Church Road, Va.
  • TALKING POINTS — Cover your ears! "Topics which will please those you want to impress." — Michele Mooney, Van Nuys, Calif. Joe Wonsetler of Swanton, Ohio, believes the phrase was created after PR staffers stopped attending seminars on how to put a positive "spin" on their press releases.
  • HOLIDAY TREE — Many salvoes were fired during this past season's "war on Christmas." At the risk of jumping into the breach, the committee agreed with those who nominated "Holiday tree" as a silly name for what most folks hold as a Christmas tree, no matter your preference of religion.

* Reprinted with permission of Lake Superior State University

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