Pay for College

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Providing parent information on the FAFSA

How to determine what parental information is needed for the FAFSA

If you have to complete the parental sections of the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), you may have questions given your family arrangement. Use the table below as a reference.


What to do

Student does not live with parents

Students who do not live with their parents are not automatically independent for financial aid purposes. (You can find more out about dependency status here.) If there are extenuating circumstances, the student should contact the financial aid office at the school to which he or she is applying and seek guidance about completing the FAFSA.

Parents are separated or divorced

In families where the student's parents are divorced, it is often difficult to determine which parent's financial information is required on the FAFSA. In general, the student should provide the information of the parent who provided the most financial support for the last 12 months prior to completing the application, or most of the last 12 months. If this parent is remarried, the stepparent's income and asset information must also be provided on the FAFSA.

If the student spent equal time with both parents, the student should provide information for the parent who provided the most financial support.

Student has a step-parent

The financial information of the student's stepparent must also be reported in most instances. The determining factor is whether the parent and stepparent are married at the time the FAFSA is completed. If the applicant's custodial parent has remarried, the parent's and stepparent's income must be reported.

Parents are unmarried but live together

If the student's legal parents are not married to each other and live together, the student should select the option on the FAFSA that states: "Unmarried and both parents living together" and provide information about his or her parents regardless of their gender. The parents may be biological, adoptive, or both.

Same-sex married couples

Select the option of "Married or remarried" on the FAFSA. Income from both parents must be included.

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