Still haven’t filled out the FAFSA? There are plenty of reasons unrelated to your financial aid eligibility why you should. One of the big ones, from a parent perspective, is having some leverage over your student. I’ll call it the “Tattoo Rule” in honor of a friend and her college freshman daughter, who shall remain unnamed.

Here’s how the Tattoo Rule works: If you have rules for your college student and your continuing to pay their college bills is contingent on her adhering to those rules– be it GPA, minimum courseload, studying an academic major in addition to an interest major, or no tattooes– then you need to fill out the FAFSA so that, should she not comply, she can take out a direct student loan. My friend’s daughter broke the family’s no tattoo rule but with limited savings and no job (and college costing what it does), she was in no position to pay her own way. And of course her parents were not about to pull her out of school. But they did want there to be some consequences– significant ones, but not punitive. Fortunately, even though they did not intend to borrow for college, they did fill out the FAFSA, so daughter is getting a direct student loan to pay this semester’s tuition.