Independence Day is this week. Fireworks. Patriotism. Picnics. Barbecue. All those things.

I often write about “financial independence” this time of year… and when I do, invariably I hear back from clients (or former clients), who communicate “financial independence” really seems like a pipe dream — completely unrealistic for them.

Honestly, I LOVE these kinds of emails because I know that when a few people write about it, there’s likely even more that think about it. Also, I get the chance to speak a word of encouragement to those that need it.

Don’t give up.

With all of the people and families out there who are going through hard times, it’s easy for them to believe there isn’t a light at the end of the tunnel. This is especially true when the media (and social media) display various forms of wealth in front of our faces.  It can be hard to face a different kind of facts on the ground.

But did you know that most self-made billionaires were previously bankrupt at some point in their lives? (Just Google it, you’ll see.)

In fact, it’s often the “fire” of these times of trouble which serve to clarify things — and gets folks making different, more informed financial decisions, perhaps for the first time.

So, if you’re feeling the financial heat right now, look out for the blessings in the midst of pain. I know it’s hard — but chances are, you’re being reminded of what’s REALLY important … and often, seeing this again can be a launch pad for living the kind of life that you really want to live.

And we’ll be right here in your corner.

Now … on a different note, but a similar theme. Rather than write about financial independence today, I thought I’d offer some pointers about when your children become more independent, i.e. go to college, and how to handle the taxes and financial aid part of it all.

Lisa Heckman’s
“Real World” Personal Strategy Note

FAFSA Tax Strategies for the Students You Love

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” -Benjamin Franklin

Sending your kids off to relative independence in college is one of the scariest, most exciting times for a parent.

You do what you can, as a loving disciplinarian, for roughly 18 years and then after one weekend of stuffing a car full-to-the-brim and unloading it the next day … it’s all up to them. It’s so bittersweet.

Today, I want to help you (or any friend you know with kids heading off to university), to experience more sweet than bitter this season with a few FAFSA tax tips.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is becoming increasingly in-demand with ever-inflating tuition fees.

Here are three FAFSA tips that might benefit students you know and love.

  1. FAFSA Data Retrieval

This first tip is arguably the most important, because it will help you long after you’re done reading this article.

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) will help college parents IMMENSELY when it comes to retrieving FAFSA tax info. The U.S. Department of Education recommends this IRS-backed service to conveniently access items like family earnings online.

You can share this service with anyone using this FAFSA website link which contains the IRS DRT.

  1. FAFSA Questions. You Answer.

There are many financial details FAFSA will call for, and I want to make sure you and your college-prep people are prepared.

Here are a few FAFSA non-negotiables:

  • Social Security Number
  • The parents’ SSNs (if a dependent student)
  • Driver’s license number
  • Alien Registration Number (if not a U.S. citizen)
  • Federal tax info and returns
  • Records of untaxed income
  • Cash, savings and checking account information

In regard to the information listed above, I’ll say this: gathering such info is one thing, but understanding how each piece correlates to FAFSA is another. We would love to help any college-ready family with this process, and it starts with us sitting down to meet. Please contact our office to schedule a tax consultation appointment.  (Tax consultation is subject to additional fees)

  1. Transcript Access

One of the first items we’ll go over is a tax transcript. This document possesses most of the line items necessary to complete the FAFSA. It will also serve as an alternative to your original tax return.

This document will offer adjustments the IRS made AFTER you filed your return, and are therefore updated and accurate. To receive your tax transcript, you can get it online at Get Transcript, or call (800) 908-9946 to order one by mail.

Although there are some tedious tasks involved in completing the FAFSA, remember you’re taking one more step in chipping away at that unfortunately-high tuition cost ahead of you.

A little work will go a long way when it comes to paying for student education. And if those students don’t appreciate all the hard tax work now, one day they (hopefully) will. Please reach out if you have any more questions, and best of luck to all of the college-bound kids you know!


Lisa Heckman
(503) 648-6184