How the FAFSA Addresses Special Family Arrangements
How to determine parent information for the FAFSA.
Today's families come in all shapes, sizes and configurations. As a result a common concern is who is the parent for FAFSA purposes.
Parents who can't answer "yes" to any of the question in Step 3 (paper FAFSA) or Step 4 (FAFSA on the web) will need to complete the parental sections of the FAFSA.
The following scenarios provide answers to a few common family arrangements.
Student Does Not Live with Parents
Students who do not live with their parents are not automatically independent for financial aid purposes. Their dependency status is determined in the manner described 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 with whom the student lived 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 Stepparent
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.
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