By Terry Savage on November 30, 2018 | College Savings / Student Loans

Hi, Terry. I read your article about the FAFSA form — thank you for all the good information. I’m a divorced mom, filling out the form with my son. You mentioned that if family circumstances have changed since the 2017 tax forms were filed, there would be an opportunity to update the information. Can you tell me how/where I can provide that update? I called the FAFSA customer service line and they said that I would have to ask each school for a “significant change form” and update them individually. Does that sound right? Also, I see that the tax return info is kept private/masked, but not the assets? Is there a way to keep the assets private? Thank you.

Terry Says

As to the first question, yes — you must contact each school and ask to change the form individually.  (It might be a good time to strike up a personal relationship with the financial aid office, so maybe they will take special note of your circumstances!)

Honestly, I don’t know the answer to the second question — about hiding assets so your child doesn’t see your full financial picture.  I assume there should be a way to “mask” those assets — but Icouldn’t find it at Fafsa.ed.gov.

However, are you aware of these definitions of which assets must be disclosed?

Investments include real estate (do not include the home in which your parents live), trust funds, UGMA and UTMA accounts, money market funds, mutual funds, certificates of deposit, stocks, stock options, bonds, other securities, installment and land sale contracts (including mortgages held), commodities, etc.

Investments do not include the home in which your parents live; cash, savings and checking accounts; the value of life insurance and retirement plans (401[k] plans, pension funds, annuities, noneducation IRAs, Keogh plans, etc.).

Those exclusions might help in this regard!

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