The struggle was real, but the wait is finally over.
The way that I navigated the college application process was by organizing dates on my dry erase board. I prioritized the many dates on my calendar and made marks signifying how many days I had left to complete certain college and scholarship applications.
I compared schools and became very selective. For me and my family, the decision maker was money. I eliminated many schools that did not offer me the best financial award. Then, I looked into the campus and made sure there were enough trees and resting areas where I could possibly see myself studying for exams.
Once FAFSA opened, I was eager to complete it. I finished it January 2 with my parents’ 2013 taxes. Fortunately, my sister then helped me with the important dates that come after completing FAFSA, and she gave me a heads up about estimated financial aid from when she filed FAFSA.
Then, after my parents completed their 2014 taxes, I had to wait a few weeks to verify them. Using my dry erase board, I counted down the days from the last time I tried to verify my parents’ 2014 tax returns. The day finally came they were verified and I made sure I had my parents’ tax copies, then finally filled everything out.
Something I learned about myself through the process was that I exaggerate and blow things out of proportion. I tend to take something very simple and make it a big deal. At some point, my parents had to tell me to relax because I can’t think straight like that. Often, I found myself practicing breathing because it calmed me down when times got stressful.
In the end, I was disappointed in how many schools did not offer me a good enough deal to make things work for my family’s finances.
When I learned what EFC (expected family contribution) meant and how much my family would have to contribute to my education, the results made me sad. I realized that financial aid depends on how the government interprets my parents’ income, not necessarily the reality of our financial situation.