To help readers of The Choice fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or Fafsa — the form that so many families will begin tackling this month to initiate the process of receiving financial aid from the federal and state governments — Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid expert and founder of the Web sites finaid.org and fastweb.com, is taking questions this week in our virtual Guidance Office. Mr. Kantrowitz is the author of “Secrets to Winning a Scholarship,” published last February.
I always learn something new from reading these types of articles. Did you know that in completing the FAFSA, a parent’s two-year associate’s degree counts as having “completed” college? However, this may be a trick question if a student is trying to qualify for some types of financial aid. Here’s the explanation from Part 2.
Q. I’m not sure how to answer the question on parent’s education level. I have an A.S. degree and took some classes at a four-year college but never got my baccalaureate degree. Have I “completed” college? – PSB
A. The purpose of this question is to determine whether the student is the first in his/her family to attend college (i.e., the highest level completed by either parent is middle or high school). Some states and colleges provide special grants and scholarships to these “first-generation” college students. First-generation college students are at higher risk of dropping out.
Note that these questions should be answered based on the birth or adoptive parents, not step-parents, foster parents or legal guardians.
For the purpose of this question, receipt of an associate’s degree is normally considered to have completed “college or beyond.”
The question is badly worded because some programs for first-generation college students distinguish between “no college,” “some college, no degree,” receipt of an associate’s degree and receipt of a bachelor’s degree.
If you are unsure as to the proper answer, select the “Other/unknown” option.
Here are links to the complete series.
- File your FAFSA ASAP – financial aid is often first-come first-served (costofcollege.wordpress.com)