Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Apply Now for Your Mandatory Heart Attack

I recently filled out the FAFSA form online for Son Number Two. If you are unfamiliar, the FAFSA is a form that high school seniors used to fill out if they were interested in going to college and looking for financial aid. “FAFSA” stands for “you won’t ever see any oF this money if one of your parents has A job, even iF that job iS burger flipper at mcdonAld’s.” (Usually the federal government is a little better with acronyms, but apparently not in this case.)

I said high school seniors used to fill it out because now they have to fill it out. Last year it became mandatory for all California high school seniors, regardless of their after-high school plans, to fill out the FAFSA. The reasoning was said to be that not enough kids and their families understood how much free federal grant money was available for college, so they should all fill out the FAFSA so that the government could tell each of them in person that they didn’t qualify for any of it.

I happen to believe they have another, far more sinister motive behind the move to make it mandatory. I’m convinced they are trying to thin the population in the Golden State by killing us parents off. I know this because they nearly got me this year.

I know damned well that we won’t qualify for any grants, and I am not interested in any of those student loans unless we’re back to not having to pay them off, then I’m very interested! I lost track of the student loan ping-pong match the government was having, so I just stopped paying attention. Therefore, I had no reason to fill out the FAFSA for Son Number Two, but we had to anyway.

I begrudgingly logged into the FAFSA website and went through the motions. The main way the FAFSA people decide that you won’t get any free money is with your federal tax return. Instead of having to manually enter all the information, there is a button that says, “Get my information directly from the IRS.” When you hit that button, it takes you through a few steps to verify that you are who you say you are, but when you’re done, it just pulls all the information into the form. It really beats hand-entering everything. Once the tax return data is in, the FAFSA supercomputer goes to work on the complex formula of: IF Form 1040 Line 15 (Taxable Income) is greater than $0.00, THEN Grant Eligibility equals NO.

The formula is woefully flawed, because it does not take into account number of teenage boys at home, total calories consumed by those teenage boys per week, number of teenage drivers in the household and the impact that has on the auto insurance bill, gas prices, food prices in dollars per calorie, the ridiculous cost of high school sports equipment, etc.

Since I already knew what the flawed formula was going to return, once I finished with the form and the FAFSA website told me I was all done, I promptly forgot about the whole thing and went about my life.

There I am, blissfully enjoying my life a week later when I get a letter in the mail from the IRS. As you know, getting an unsolicited letter from the IRS is never a good thing. When you get an email or a text from the “IRS,” it’s just an annoying spammy part of modern life that we all have to deal with. But the IRS actually communicates with you via the snail mail, and when you are holding a letter that was actually sent from the IRS, you know good and well that it’s legitimate.

So, there I am, no longer blissfully enjoying my life, standing on the sidewalk staring at this letter with a whirlwind of possible worst-case scenarios going through my mind. Am I being audited? Did they decide I owe them more money? How much time and money out of my life is this one envelope going to cost me? I don’t have enough of either.

I bit the bullet and the rising bile, trying my best to ignore my medically-concerning heart rhythm and rate, and opened the envelope.

Our records indicate that your tax return information was accessed by the FAFSA system… If this information sharing was authorized by you, no action is required…

OH MY GOD, the FAFSA! I forgot all about that!

Yes, I guess no action is required by me except to find a defibrillator and try to restart my heart.

I’m telling you, this whole mandatory FAFSA thing is a deliberate plot by California to weed out the high school parents with weak hearts. They know the power of the IRS, and they are exploiting it to kill us off. I haven’t figured out why yet… Maybe something to do with the rising cost of health care? I guess that remains to be seen. I’m just glad I lived through it this time.

Be careful out there, folks! If you have a high school senior, best to let them retrieve and open all the mail between October and June. They still have strong hearts.

See you soon,



Copyright © 2023 Marc Schmatjen


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