117: It is FAFSA time & Let’s Talk About College Breaks 📅

117: It is FAFSA time & Let's Talk About College Breaks 📅

Hello, my ah-mazing empty nest friend,

If you have a child in college, and they'll continue to be a college student next year, it is time to complete the FAFSA! 

It is also time to think about winter break. 

Whether they were on-campus or not, I've got you covered in this episode as, it isn't always a party when they return home. 🎈

Coach Christine,

Your Empty Nest Coach

"Your child will be different when they return home, whether it is their first semester in college or their fourth. I can’t tell you exactly how they’re going to be different, but I can tell you they will be different."

Take a listen or read the full transcript at the bottom of this post.

⇓⇓⇓ More goodies below, too! Scroll down ⇓, so you don't miss anything! ⇓⇓⇓

🎙The podcast episode in which I remind you that the #FAFSA is open, and we talk about how to prepare for the upcoming college breaks. 💚 #CollegeParents #CollegeBreaks  #EmptyNest  #Podcast #EmptyNestMom #EmptyNestSyndrome 

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This Episode is Brought To You By

What You Will Learn in this Episode 

  • A Reminder that The FAFSA is Open for the 2021-2022 School Year
  • Things to Consider for the Upcoming College Breaks - Even if Your Student is Home!

Episode Questions for You To Consider

  1. Do you need to complete the FAFSA?
  2. Are you ready for the upcoming college break?

Episode Resources

Send audio feedback to Coach Christine now: voicemail/text to 1-920-LIFEWIN (1-920-543-3946). 📞

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Episode 117 of the Your Empty Nest Coach Podcast


Christine:  Hi, it’s Coach Christine.  This is my podcast.  It’s the Your Empty Nest Coach Podcast and you are now listening to episode number 117.  If you are new here, know that I tend to use terms I’ve introduced in prior episodes.  Should you feel a bit lost, use my show notes for best places to begin.  In this episode, I talk about the FAFSA and how to prepare for college breaks, whether your child is currently on-campus or not.


I work with mothers of high school students and beyond, who are in the trenches with sad and possibly, overwhelming thoughts about what their life will look like when their baby heads to college and begins to leave the nest.  My clients’ big question is what will I do with my time?  Is this you?  I’ve been there, and I get it.  Empowering you to write the next jaw-dropping, amazing chapter in your life is my passion.  I am energized by leading you in the process of exploration and am thrilled when you unlock the power that lies within you.  This podcast is my gift to you.


My future empty nest friend, and Conscious Effective Olympian, or CEO, of your life, how are you doing today?  Holy cow, there is a chance that this episode may be analogy-free.  Can I even do that?  Show notes for this episode have links to anything I discuss that is linkable, and of course, you’ll find all sorts of fun stuff, and ways to work with me on my website: YourEmptyNestCoach.com.  If you enjoy this episode, I invite you to subscribe to this podcast, and to consider joining the GPS Support Flock.  What is that?  I’m so glad you asked; take a listen.  


Thanks!  Thank you!  It’s time to thank our sponsor.  This episode is sponsored by my membership community, The GPS Support Flock; Your Flight to Success in the Empty Nest.  If you are ready to find the GPS of your life, sign up to receive an immediate and free download of my PDF, "How to Find Yourself in the Empty Nest," our GPS Life Principles document.  You will also have the opportunity to learn about our community.  See the link in this episode's show notes or fly on over to my website, YourEmptyNestCoach.com.  Click the GPS Support Flock button.  See you soon! 


This is a bit of an informational episode.  Use it as a reference and don’t be afraid to pop back here again, if need be, or to pause it for later.  First up, I’d like to remind you that, yes, is it FAFSA time.  This will be important to you if you are in the U.S., and your child plans to attend college in the upcoming school year.  I get that a lot of things are up in the air, but if you think there is a chance they’ll attend, I recommend doing the FAFSA.  It can’t hurt.


I’ve heard people say, “Oh no, it’s FAFSA time.  I hate doing the FAFSA. It’s awful.” I have to admit, while the result from the FAFSA doesn’t usually make me want to jump up and down with excitement, the process of actually completing it isn’t too bad.  The FAFSA is going to be as awful as you allow your mind to let it be.  So choose.  I use, “It’s FAFSA time; I’m excited to be done with it.”  It works.


If you have never done the FAFSA before, you’ll need to get the IDs first.  A parent will need one, and your student will need one.  Once you have the ID’s, you then have the actual form to complete.  All of this is available via studentaid.gov. I don’t recommend paying someone else to do the FAFSA for you.  It’s rare that this would be needed.  I’d set aside 15 minutes to create the IDs and then 30 minutes to do the FAFSA.  Both I think are padded generously, but just in case, that’ll give you a ballpark idea of how long it takes.


The FAFSA is completed every year your child is in college, so it’s good to make friends with it, if they’ll be attending.  It will pull your tax information from a prior year, so have that info handy in case it doesn’t import automatically.  You’ll find plenty of videos and free tutorials if you run into problems.  I’m not a financial aid advisor.  I’m a mom who has a daughter in her senior year, so I’ve done it four times now.


You’ll get a confirmation email in a few days that confirms it was processed and there will be an EFC number.  That number doesn’t have a dollar sign, it’s simply digits.  It represents the amount of money that the government believes you can afford to pay for your child’s education for the next year.  That’s one year.  Be prepared for this number to be more than you’d expect.  I recommend sitting down.


The colleges your child applies to will use this number in determining financial aid available to them, including government loans.  Every college’s financial aid package will be different, so weigh their options carefully.  Also, consider all four years.  Look at the fine print on the awarding, to be sure you and your child are comfortable with where they’ll land before making any firm decisions.  Long story short, it’s FAFSA time and if your child plans for college next year, put it on your radar to complete in the near future, if you haven’t already.  That is my friendly reminder. 


Now let’s talk about college breaks.  You may know I’ve been having a lot of fun creating Reels on Instagram.  I’m even teaching some women now, how to become comfortable with them.  Lately, I’ve been taking some information from the podcast and putting it into these little 15-second to 30-second Reels, so I am doing a series within the Reels.  Currently, one is about college breaks and how you should prepare as a parent for college breaks.  I am going to talk about both, if your child has been on campus and if your child has not.  You may gain something out of both, but if you want to jump to one section, check my show notes for time markers. 


For those of you whose child has been on-campus:

First, be prepared for a routine change, again. When your child left for college, your routine in the household changed and it impacted everyone, even the pets.  When your college-student returns home, they’ll be used to the old routine and the rest of you won’t, so be prepared for change.  Second, expect them to be tired.  They have been going nonstop while they are away, and even if they had less activities than anyone expected, due to being on a campus with physical distancing, trust me, the emotional toll of being in that environment is exhausting and they more than likely couldn’t stop.  They had to keep going.  So the moment they cross the threshold of your home, wherever you live, they are going to feel like their five-year-old self safe and comfortable, whether that’s where they lived when they were five or not.  I know, some of you are going to get technical with me there.  But hopefully, they know they feel safe here.


Expect them to be really tired, expect them to go into this decompress mode.  They more than likely won’t be planning it.  It will be something that happens.  They may not even be aware they need it.  Don’t be surprised if they disappear for two days in their room which, you know, maybe they should be quarantining anyway.  If they don’t, so be it.  But if they do, I don’t want you to be surprised.  I warned you.  Third, set some expectations.  We already talked about how routines will be off-kilter a bit again.  Take some time now, ahead of time to think about how your routine before they left is different from how it is now.  Do you want it all to go back to the way it was?  Is there something new that you want to make sure doesn’t change?  Address it now.  Maybe you don’t want to do their laundry.  Set those expectations before they get home, but also be okay if their laundry doesn’t get washed on day one, unless you set that expectation.  Get the idea?


You also may want to check in with them and ask them what they’re really looking forward to, in case that’s something you could do without.  Remove the tension later.  Take the time to be curious about what you love now and what you want to stay.  Have fun with this and get creative.  By looking at this early and addressing it, will remove some tension on your time together.  So think ahead and figure out what, if anything, should be addressed.  


Fourth, your child will be different when they return home, whether it’s their first semester in college or their fourth.  I can’t tell you exactly how they’re going to be different, but I can tell you they will be different.  Independence changes a person in all sorts of ways.  Take the opportunity to get to know them all over again.  Remove your assumptions about who they were and get to know who they are now.


My next tip is for both parents whose college-student has been on-campus and for parents who have had their child home.  Take some time to celebrate where you are today and that you’ve made it to a milestone, and you should take some time to celebrate.  It doesn’t need to be a huge celebration.  I have a minimalist mindset, so I’d celebrate with a walk to get coffee, or a specifically chosen movie night, with maybe some special food.  But this is your celebration, make it what works for you and your family.  Give yourself a pat on the back for navigating all of your emotions through this semester.  Make sure you also tell your child how proud you are of them.  If you are having trouble finding this, take some time to really look.  You’ll find it.  Celebrate. 


If your child did not move out of your home for this semester, here are a couple of tips I have for you.  First, if you haven’t already, talk about the spring semester.  Discuss the options available for your student, if there are any.  If an option to move-on campus suddenly arrives, is that something they’d want to do?  Do they definitely want to stay home again?  Is there anything they would like to have different, if they do stay home?  The same question for you.  If they want to go back to campus, take the opportunity to be curious about the emotions and thoughts that arise in you.  Provide them a safe space to share.  I’d also recommend having this conversation or conversations outside of the celebration space.  Celebration is for celebration.  It’s also okay to celebrate even if you don’t know what is next, in case somebody needs that permission.  More than likely you aren’t sure of all of your options, yet.  But have fun exploring what they could be and what life might be like if you have them available. 



Second, take the opportunity to notice if anything has changed about your child this semester.  Yes, even while at home.  They may not have been able to experience the level of independence that attending classes on campus would have given them, but take a moment to notice the child in your home, that they would have returned different.  Where do your thoughts go?  Are you happy they’re still at home?  Happy for the extra time?  Are you bummed for them, that they didn’t get to experience the on-campus life?  If so, add “yet” to the end of that statement and how does that feel? 


I’ll be honest, my child went to campus.  I may not be able offer much here, but I’d love to know how you feel, if this is you.  Do you have tips, tricks, thoughts for other parents in your situation?  If so, I’d love to share them with my audience on social media.  I’m done recording episodes for 2020, otherwise I’d slide it into an upcoming episode.  But if you email me at Christine@youremptynestcoach.com or message me on Instagram, @emptynestcoach, I’d love to share.  Oh, I also could add this in my monthly email, or of course, the flock!  Yes, yes.  You should join the flock.



The questions I have for you in this episode are, one, do you need to complete the FAFSA?  And, two, are you ready for the upcoming college break?  As always, I provide content to make you think, my empty nest friend.  My hope is that I am able to provide you with thoughts that positively impact your life.  My next episode’s title is: The Benefit of Taking Time Off.  This one is listener requested.


Are you able to screenshot this episode right now?  If so, take a minute to do that and then to share it on social media to help others find it.  That would be incredibly helpful.  Be sure to tag me @emptynestcoach so I may personally thank you.  Happy FAFSAing and prepping for that upcoming college break!  You, my empty nest friend, are amazing!



Still listening? 

This semester has been odd. We usually only see our daughter once prior to Thanksgiving, if we are lucky.  She’s a few states away.  But this is her senior year, and she has her senior art show and thesis, and we can’t go.  It totally makes sense.  Hubby and are good with it.  We don’t need to be on the college campus, but it’s yet another thing that who would have thought we wouldn’t be doing this year.  Have you had any of these moments lately?