Parents tax returns affect student financial aid

It's a crucial time to file income tax returns, especially for parents of high school seniors who need financial aid for college. Especially because tax information is used to fill out the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid.

The FAFSA is an online government application that determines how much aid a student is eligible for based on parent's tax information.

The financial aid application process is known for being difficult. Ramona Pitre is a parent of a Memorial High School senior, she said it's been a learning experience.

"I understand now why it's important to file my taxes as soon as possible," she said, "that way she will get a head start on what she needs to do."

Her daughter, Haley Pitre will attend Huston Tillotson University in Austin in the fall to major in business. She said with the help of her mother, she has applied for as many grants and scholarships as possible.

"I'm trying to stay away from loans as much as possible, but if I need to I will," she said.

Parents who file taxes early can increase the chances of how much aid their child can get. The less money a family can contribute, the more money a student can receive. Counselors like Carmen Hudson said it's better to do it sooner than later.

"Colleges are only allowed so much money so once the funds are gone they're gone," she said.

The "F" in FAFSA stands for free and Hudson said students should be aware of scams that ask parents or students for payment.

"This is a free service so they shouldn't have to pay and should be leery of being asked to pay for the service of financial aid," she said.

The process may be intimidating, but the pay off is endless.

"I just want to make my parents proud and start a life with my own business," Pitre said, "and give back to the community."


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