The Five Stages of Filling Out The FAFSA

Filling out your FAFSA has very distinct emotional stages to work through. It’s now the time of year to work through these as quickly as possible in hopes that you too can obtain more debt.

Oh shit, the FAFSA opened on the first.

Apparently, despite multiple warnings, posters, reminders, and carrier pigeons sent my way concerning the new October 1st opening of the beloved FAFSA, I still had January tattooed in my mind as “harass my parents for intimate financial details” day.

2015 is still gonna haunt us in 2018.

2015 isn’t just the year that we all had to hear about Kim Davis’ opinions constantly, or the year that overpriced athleisure became a thing; it’s also the year that will haunt us in 2018. Somehow, FAFSA has decided that our old taxes apply to how we’re currently doing financially. If you’ve been waiting to get in on those student loans to go back to school, then you’ll have to petition the financial aid office, or keep on waiting.

I have no idea how finances work.

There comes a profound moment when sifting through your tax statements and old W2s that occurs between the “eyes are burning from the teeny numbers,” and “openly weeping into my laptop,” stages of filling out the FAFSA. This moment is called the “where did all my money go?” phenomenon. Staring at the numbers, one can’t help but feel like all of that capital should have meant you were eating more than ramen and soggy graded math assignments at the time. Take a while to sit in a blanket and stare at a wall for a few hours as your existential crisis ebbs.

Slogging through tiny white boxes is the worst.

Maybe it’s being a young person in 2016 that makes me so opposed to boxes and labels, but the FAFSA process takes way longer than the average 20 to 50 minutes that’s advertised. At least, it feels that way. Putting every asset, dollar, and piece of pocket lint that you and possibly your parents own into black and white takes time. Time spent wondering why we aren’t like most of Europe, and haven’t accepted that maybe K-18 education is a worthy investment for taxpayers that rely on people with those 12-18 years of education to make their cars and write their articles and stick their IV’s in.

The killer combo: dread and relief.

Clicking the square and signing the final teeny white box stating that as far as you know everything in that application is perfect inspires a rush of adrenaline accompanied by thoughts of checking the whole thing through again for the fifth time because maybe, just maybe, you filled something in wrong, and the financial aid gods are going to rain their wrath upon you.

But you click it anyway, and you send it off, and you sit, glowing with the heady anticipation of the faint opportunity to dig yourself further into debt next year in the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness.

Editorial by Moriah Hoskins

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