Be Your Own Advocate

Friday, April 05, 2024
Fafsaonpaper 2024

A nurse friend of mine gave me some great advice a few years ago. She told me that no matter how great you think your doctor is, you must still always be your own advocate regarding your health. Sure, your doctor is knowledgeable, experienced, and cares about your well-being, but if you simply take his or her advice blindly, you are asking for trouble.

I initially thought it was strange and kind of off-putting that someone in healthcare implied that I couldn’t fully trust the professionals in her industry. But this wasn’t her point. Do your homework. Trust but verify. Don’t take chances with something so important. That was the message.

My friend was right, of course. As much as you trust a particular person, group, or institution, some things are too important to leave to chance. Over the last several decades, paying for college has joined this list. For many students and families, the rising cost alone has been enough to compel them to pay more attention. For others, the new FAFSA rollout disaster has likely done the trick.

To recap, the new FAFSA has been plagued by more problems than even the most skeptical government critic could have predicted. A three-month delay in launching, a litany of technical glitches inhibiting submissions, incomplete calculations producing faulty results, and incorrect tax information submitted on behalf of an estimated 1 out of 5 applicants.

For those keeping score:

  • Very late in the game … check
  • Applicants are unsure if the form was submitted correctly … check
  • Major inputs provided by the government are wrong … check

For anyone still holding out hope that our trusted institutions would fix things, you just struck out. It’s time to take things into your own hands and be your own advocate.

Luckily, being your own advocate does not mean being on your own. 

College Aid Pro was created by financial aid and admissions experts to empower students and families to do just this: learn the rules of the game, understand what the end should look like, and then plan for it accordingly to attend a great school while reducing cost and minimizing debt.

It is not too late if you have not engaged with us before. We are ramping up our efforts to support all of our stakeholders at this critical time, and we hope you take advantage of our free resources:

Students & Families:

  • Create a free MyCAP account here and let us double-check your SAI calculations
  • Confirm you were not one of the 20% of families with incorrect tax data
  • You can also upload your award letters to see if you got a fair offer
  • Join our upcoming webinars covering key aspects of the FAFSA issues:
  • April 10th: find the right college at the right price – register here
  • April 11th: the FAFSA Fiasco & the importance of appealing – register here
  • April 15th: FAFSA Power Hour - how to fix and file your forms – register here

School Counselors:

  • Please consider us an extension of your staff – we know how much is on your plate, so let us cover the financial aid minutiae and endless changes for you
  • Join us for our bi-weekly Counselor Coffee Talks, where we answer your questions and cover the latest news in financial aid and admissions – register here
  • If interested, please schedule an intro call with our team to discuss how we can support you and your families throughout the year – schedule a call here

I believe government employees and institutions have the public’s best interest at heart and are mostly trying to do good work. Blindly trusting them, however, has led to some disastrous unintended consequences, exemplified by the massive $1.7 trillion (yes, trillion with a “T”) student debt crisis that exists today.

The time has come to take matters into your own hands. Do your homework. Trust but verify. Be your own advocate.