December has just begun, and that means everyone's favorite time of the year is just around the corner. Of course I'm talking about filling out the FAFSA form. YAY!
What? You mean you are not planning your FAFSA parties? Well what about all of those shows on TV celebrating the FAFSA season? You can't tell me than you have never wished anyone a "Merry FAFSA." Wow... I think I'm more out of touch than I thought.
For those of you who are not in tune with all the joys of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid), let me clue you in. FAFSA is the most important form for determining what your student will pay for college. It is the critical element in determining how much money the schools and the government will give a student heading to college. It's kind of a big deal. The earliest you can file a FAFSA form is January 1st before the college year in question. So all those new aspiring college freshmen will be first time filers in just a few short weeks.
Now there's all kinds of great information on our site about what you should do in preparation for the FAFSA, but one of the most important aspects is what I want to cover here. That important aspect is get all the money you can out of your student's name. You see, parents have what is called an asset protection allowance (APA). The APA in conjunction with the lower percentage assessment of parental assets means that parents' assets do not increase students' expected financial contribution (EFC) as much as student assets do. So it's a smart idea to lower student assets as much as possible. Thankfully, this time of year offers us an excellent means to accomplish that. Take your student's money and go buy their Christmas presents with it.
I think we just lost 90% of our student readers.
Don't panic. If you want to replace the student's money down the road after you have completed the FAFSA, then feel free to do so. But for now, your student needs to get rid of their cash, or they will be paying more for college than they have to.
So here is the soon to be college students' Christmas shopping list.
Gizmo’s and Gadget’s
Computer (let’s start with the really fun one): if your student does not yet
have a computer of their own, or the one they do have is outdated; you should
certainly consider this as the “A” #1 top of the list. Consider a multimedia
computer with a TV tuner card. Shoot, because most networks are putting their shows online, the TV tuner may be a moot point. You can kill a lot of birds with one stone here.
Not only will a multimedia machine act as their computer, but it will also be
their TV, their DVD player, their TV recorder, and their stereo. It is truly
the Jack of all appliances. And it makes for a great entertainment system for
the very few hours they will not spend studying.
laptop is preferred. There isn’t much room in a dorm room, so you don’t want to
take up precious space with a big desktop unit. Besides, they’ll want to be
able to take the computer to the library, or class, or home.
Ethernet cable for the computer. There will still be some places where
wireless access may not be available to hook in to a network.
Printer/Copier/Scanner: although many schools and professors are now allowing students to
submit papers in electronic format, this is far from being the norm. So,
your student is going to need some way to print off that earth-shattering
report on Machiavelli. Printers are dirt cheap today compared to what you got
yesterday. You can often pick up a good printer/scanner/copier for less than
$150 or even $100
protector: protect the investment you just made. Two of them are better
than one, and three of them are not overkill.
cords: two or three of these as well.
or other MP3 player. Make sure you have headphones as well. Your
roommate will thank you for them. Actually, you may want to take along a
second pair of headphones… just in case your roommate forgot to bring
theirs. Then you will be thankful for them.
I grew up in a telephone family — literally. My family has been in the telephone business since before there was copper wire; so what I am
about to say would have been heresy at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner a few
years ago. Go get your student a prepaid wireless phone. Don’t bother with the
hard wired phones anymore. Phones can double as MP3 players as well.
digital voice recorder for class lectures: skip the old tape recorder — your
student will likely download the recording to their computer anyway. If you
bought a good phone, the phone may double for a voice recorder as well. Better yet, check out the new Livescribe pens. I have one and they are fantastic for taking notes, recording the lecture, and transcribing to your computer, all in one very convenient package.
camera: they’ll want to preserve the rest of their high school year and
has excellent reviews of digital cameras. You can get one heck of a good camera
for little money these days. I have both a still camera and a Flip Video
camera that only cost $150. With the popularity of uploading video, a
video camera is becoming more popular than digital still cameras.
iPad or Android Tablet: The benefits are numerous, and they will take the place of the camera I just mentioned.
you didn’t go the multimedia computer route, then your student is going to want
these as well —
- TV – small
LCD TV’s are very reasonable now
- DVD player
Stereo or iPod dock
- Coffee Maker
– they can’t be a Starbucks all the time
- Microwave –
if you check out www.sears.com, you’ll find quite a few small
microwaves for under $100
– you can get several dorm-sized refrigerators for under $100 as well
around the dorm room
- Kitchen type
tools: bowl, cup, glasses, can/bottle opener, etc.
- Chip clips
- A small safe
or anti-theft drawer (there may be a few things you don't want your
roommate or others to get at)
- Desk Lamp
- Alarm clock
(one with a really loud and annoying alarm — they’ll need it)
board and dry-erase calendar board
- A small
toolkit (I do not suggest the Craftsman, rolling tool chest; a small bag
- Duct Tape
(the all purpose fix-it isn't just for Red Green anymore)
- Bed linens
- Bedside lamp
- Waste paper
- Milk crates
or other storage cubes
storage (check to see if you can access under the bed)
- A fan (even
if the dorm is air conditioned)
- Drying rack
hooks, tacky strips, and mounting tape
- Towels and
- Mattress Pad
- Laundry bag
detergent and stain remover
- Lint brush
- Small sewing
kit (better teach your kid to sew on a button)
- Ear Plugs
(The RA's will probably keep a lid on things, but better safe than sorry)
- Small first
- Cough drops
- Shower tote
- Shampoo &
- Hair care
- Bath &
- Soap travel
- Dental Floss
- Nail Clippers
- Hair dryer
- Razor &
- Memory Sticks
- Stapler &
- Printer Paper
- Pens &
- Post-it Notes
- Paper clips
- Rubber bands
& Thesaurus (or just use the Internet or an app)