FAFSA How-To Guide

Explore the unique Q&A-formatted and cartoon-filled FAFSA guide that educators all over the country have been downloading and distributing to their college-bound seniors.<br><br> <br><br>

The FAFSA can be a huge pain, and there are so many websites and booklets that aim to help students, counselors, and parents when completing the form. The “How-To Guide for High School Students (And the Adults Who Help Them): FAFSA” aims to do the same but takes a unique approach and has received amazing feedback from educators all over the nation. Written by Kim Nauer and Sandra Salmans, this yearly-updated guide uses a question and answer format alongside cartoon illustration to answer questions that may pop up when trying to complete the FAFSA.

Get Schooled had a chance to catch up with Nauer to bring you the scope of the FAFSA resource. 

Q: Explain the creative process behind creating such a comprehensive guide.

A: “Initially we had the idea of creating a poster around FAFSA that was supposed to look like a game board. It was ridiculous in retrospect to think that we could possibly do that because it is so complex. I needed it to be visually engaging, friendly, fun and game-like. I had created a bunch of cartoons already for the poster. Another thing that we did was that for a poster, you have to keep the words brief so I had all this tightly written material. I ended up just physically cutting the poster up and saw that it worked as a book. The Q & A format is the easiest way to tackle questions that kids would want to ask their guidance counselors. “

Q: What are your thoughts behind the FAFSA process?

A: “It is definitely needlessly complex. They made the FAFSA into something like the federal tax system. It needs to be built for the families that are here today, which are not 2-kid, 2-parent, and 1 dog families.

Q: Describe any feedback received from educators, students, parents, and communities?

A: “People really like this thing and having CUNY and the Department of Education printing copies and distributing to students at their own cost shows that they think its valuable. They liked the book so much that they became a close partner and they print enough copies for every senior in NYC (80,000) in 8 different languages now. The PDF is also available to print. It is used nationwide, and a lot of guidance counselors like the friendliness and takes on the odd-ball cases.”

Q: If you could highlight one thing in this guide, what would it be?

A: “I would just highlight the fact that we try very much to be friendly and speak in a voice to the students.”

Q: In your words, what makes this FAFSA guide unique compared to other FAFSA materials?

A: “If you look at every other FAFSA site and guide, they aren’t as friendly and as student-centered and built around the kind of kids who need this help the most. The spunkiness, friendliness and the pictures reflecting a variety of cultures and expressions is what makes our guide. This format acknowledges that this is for the kids and they can do this.”

Click here to download and print your own copy!