Paperwork!

I just emerged from the joy that is FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid for the uninitiated out there). Now, filling out forms isn’t a problem. Actually I get a strange kick out of such things which is disturbing, I know. But it’s about the only part of my tax analyst life that I truly enjoy… I LOVE the forms that aren’t part of our tax filing software, the ones where I have to bust out the pencil and bang away on the adding machine. There’s something fulfilling about entering all the numbers, adding lines 8, 10, 11, and 13, and at the end having a figure. I suppose I am a math geek after all. However, when I fill out those forms and find out that we owe money, well, that stinks, but hey, at least it’s not MY money.

The irritating thing about the FAFSA is that at the end of the online process they give you their “Estimated Family [that would be me] Contribution” calculation which is invariably a ridiculously high number. Did they notice the disconnect between “taxable income” and “taxes paid” for the year in question, i.e. I have a boatload of deductions (all legal, mind you; homeownership is expensive but it does have its perks)? And, oh yeah, they know how much money I actually have. Like, if I emptied every account I own here’s what I would have. And, um, that amount is a fraction of my EFC.

Oh well… no point fretting about it now. It’s one more thing checked off my to-do list and out of my hands for now. I think they just like to throw that EFC at you as some sort of governmental practical joke. Someone on the other end is probably entering random numbers every time someone submits their FAFSA and having a good giggle whenever he enters a particularly absurd one.

FAFSA is just one of the gleeful administrative tasks involved in going back to school for nursing. We also have to get a criminal background check. Not only that, we get to pay for it ourselves! It does make sense to do this, they don’t want to admit someone to school, educate them and then find out that they are prohibited from being licensed due to their past, er, recreational activities. But, c’mon, $72 when I can tell you that my criminal history is as exciting as a speeding ticket on the NY Thruway in May of 1997? And, hell, I didn’t even DESERVE that ticket! (I had the cruise control set at 71. If the trooper had said “I clocked you going 71 in a 65” then fine, guilty. But no, he claimed I was going 80. I don’t even know if my poor, loaded-down Cavalier could go 80 at that point. But I wasn’t about to spend part of my summer break travelling back to Canajoharie to set the record straight, so I paid my fine and have been poking along like a little old lady since. Way to kill my reckless youth, buddy. It would have been nice to at least have the thrill of speeding before getting a ticket. Still fuming about it nine and a half years later.)

I’ve also been trying to figure out how to find 25+ year old immunization records. I sort of assumed that such things existed into perpetuity in some dusty recess of a warehouse. But my old family doctor’s office stated that they didn’t keep patients’ records after 8 years from the last visit. Didn’t have them as in they got shipped to archives or didn’t have them as in tossed ’em in the dumpster out back? The girl I talked to “guessed” that they were destroyed. Okay. Uh… hm. I then had the brilliant idea to contact Hamilton’s health center. I know I had to supply proof of at least the MMR stuff when I went to college. Thankfully they’re not quite so dump-happy there and the woman assured me that she could get the records I needed. I don’t know if the Hep B info is on there, but I can sign a waiver to get out of that vaccine, so if it’s not I might that route, which seems kind of backwards to claim that I don’t want the vaccine when in fact I took it ten years ago, but if it gets the job done… Thankfully I am up-to-date on tetanus (and it was after they added the pertussis booster to the vaccine, so I’m not one of those poor suckers who has to go get another tetanus shot even though they’re within 10 years of the last one) and finally got vaccinated for chicken pox this summer. So now I just need my TB test and a flu shot. Perhaps this is how they get people over any fear of needles? Or maybe just get us used to the mountains of paperwork and CYA.

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