Posted in Education, Family, Teenagers

What the FAFSA Comes Next?

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Overwhelming Confusion

Yesterday, October 1, 2019, was FAFSA Day, when the Free Application for Federal Student Aid became available for possible higher learning financial aid.  After making our FAFSA ID’s, researching how to fill out the form, and then completing the detailed process, I admit to being more confused than ever about how college will be affordable for my daughter, a senior who plans to be enrolled in a four-year major next fall.

We are a two-income, middle class family of four humans, two dogs, and one kitty. I know that my child won’t get a Pell Grant or Federal Work-Study because the FAFSA will accuse us college-educated parents of making too much. For my daughter’s freshman year, FAFSA will, most likely, only offer a $3500 subsidized Stafford Loan (one that will be deferred and not accrue interest until she graduates). That will cover about four college books, a laptop (or really pretty notebook), a package of highlighters, and a meal plan for a semester. The other federal loans are non-subsidized, and interest will start the day the loan begins.

The four-year schools she’s considering cost anywhere from $25,000-35,000 per year, and these are the most economical ones. This price tag includes tuition, room and board, and a free library card.

I didn’t expect to get free money from the Free Application… but I didn’t expect to only find loans in which the interest starts the first day of classes. It’s daunting and probably deters many prospective students to chant, “No more pencils, no more books…”

If you’ve been through this financial process and understand my frustration, please share what you have done to help your kids such as take out a: home equity loan, home equity line of credit, or Parent Plus Loan. Or did the student take out a private student loan? If so was it better for you to cosign to help their interest rate go down? Risks? Pros? Cons?

Anything you are willing to share about your experiences with financial aid triumphs and/or letdowns would be greatly appreciated.  Thank you.

I’ve been a secondary English teacher since 1995 and believe that education ignites the world. Can you help me figure out how to take a monetary monster off of our future light bulbs in America? Shine on!

(Feel free to comment here, in my email (dslucaswrites@gmail.com), or on social media. Thank you in advance.)

Posted in Family, Writing

Less is Better

Phew! I just submitted my final paper for one of the two grad classes I’ve been taking since April 9th. it’s a relief to be done. Although I’ve learned much from both classes, the bigger lesson is not to “bite off more than you can chew” (sorry for the cliche, but all my creativity is wiped the hell out). Anyhow, I’m done, but I could have absorbed more knowledge if I took one class instead of two. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but I was overwhelmed by literary thoughts that interrupted my life as a teacher, mother, wife, family member, and friend.

My biggest recommendation to students enrolled in higher education of any level is to go slower when possible. Don’t overload your coursework because your tuition covers 15-21 credits. Ugh! I took 21 credits once as an undergrad and was miserable. Schooling needs to be challenging but not miserable. Take an extra semester if needed.

I will be enjoying the rest of my MFA requirements, slow and steady. I have too many responsibilities beyond another college degree. I love my life to be filled with real people (not just characters in books), backyard places beyond my imagination, and things that might remind me of the people and places I keep in my memories. My point of this unedited post is to live life fully but not overbooked. I seem to learn much more from stepping stones and mini journeys. Big, overzealous leaps often end in clumsy pitfalls.

The final paper I wrote for  The Long Story & Novella course made me realize how smaller can be bigger; majestic mountains can be seen in molehills; novels can grow from character sketches.