Greetings CSO Nation!

I survived the Blizzard of 2011!  I’m officially a SURVIVOR!  I hope everyone reading this post endured and weathered the storm – no matter what state you’re in.  This too shall pass…

There are great lessons in every storm!

A storm teaches you to prepare in advance. A storm teaches you to come together with those close to you and help each other out through the difficult periods.  A storm teaches you about your inner strength and how much you can bear.  Storms give us an opportunity to reflect and realize that trouble doesn’t last always.

As I read the news reports out of my hometown, Chicago, there were people stranded on the Lake Shore Drive who really thought they were not going to make it.  But they did.  The amazing thing was the kindness of strangers.  People came out of their high rise condos and apartments to bring food and water to those who were stranded on the drive for well over seven hours.  Storms can bring people together.

Many schools were closed for the day and some through the week, but life goes on.  Speaking of life, the money matters, as it relates to college, can be a do or die experience for many and creates a personal kind of storm.  As a storm teaches you to prepare in advance, so does the process of Financial Aid.  It behooves you to prepare in advance.  The FAFSA is the foundation and a mandatory rite of passage for all college students.  After the college application, it is the most critical piece of paper you will ever complete!

When FAFSA says they are accepting applications on the first of January, believe them!  File your application on the first day!  The money goes so fast and as a future college student, you want to be in the early processing batch which is always the first two weeks of January.  Don’t delay.  Seek help from your parents (they have the expertise you need to figure the paperwork out) and work together as a team!  Those are my tips for financial aid as you work towards higher education.  Stick to this strategy each year and you won’t regret it.  Some storms can’t be avoided, but financial storms can be if you file your FAFSA as soon as possible.