FAFSA Tips for Students of Divorced Parents
Applying for college is stressful enough, but putting together a financial plan to cover the cost of college can be even more taxing. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application is usually the first step in the financial plan for a college education. Students are considered for federal funding that is based on their parents’ income and assets in relation to their debt and dependents ratio. Grants, federal student loans, and work study programs offered through FAFSA provides much needed funding for college students.
The FAFSA process can be intimidating and a bit overwhelming to complete. When a student of divorced parents begins the process, it can quickly become a very complicated situation. Accurate and careful reporting of parent income and assets are the keys to claiming the maximum amount of financial aid available. Knowing how to represent divorced parents and blended families before filling out the paperwork can ensure a student secures all that is available.
Types of Information Necessary for the FAFSA
There are several important areas to be aware of when filling out a FAFSA application.
Who is the Custodial Parent?
In a family situation where both parents are married and living together, the FAFSA considers both parent’s taxed income, untaxed income, assets, and benefits. In a divorce situation, or in a situation where parents are separated and not living together, only the custodial parent’s financial information is considered. The Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is based on the custodial parent rather than the legal guardian, which are two distinct categories. The custodial parent is the one who the student spends most of their time living with, and/or the parent that provides the majority of financial support to the student.
If the custodial parent has remarried, the income of both the custodial parent and step parent are considered in the financial aid package. Other information, such as the number of children in the blended family attending college at the same time, and the number of dependents the family is responsible to support are also considered. In a situation where common law or adoptive parents live together, both parents’ finances are considered.
What Information to Share on the FAFSA Application
The FAFSA requires accurate reporting of mandated information, but a common mistake among applicants is sharing too much information that limits the aid they receive. Requested information may include:
- Student and parents’ Social Security numbers
- Student driver license number
- Alien registration numbers for non-citizens
- Federal tax reports for custodial parent
- Sources of untaxed income such as child support
- Cash and liquid assets, investments, and business revenue
- A copy of the divorce agreement
- Alimony information where applicable
Those applying for FAFSA should refrain from sharing more information that what is requested, such as the income of all parents, step-parents, and live-in partners. The students of divorced parents are only required to report the information of the custodial parent and step parent.
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If you need assistance with a child support or custody matter, call the Philadelphia child custody lawyers at Freedman & Lorry, P.C. at 888-999-1962, or contact us online to schedule a consultation today. Our Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and Pinehurst, North Carolina offices serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.