Knowing the financial aid rules for divorced families seeking assistance to send their children to college may create some confusion. A divorce or separation can affect how you file for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is required in order to get a college loan. So here is some information to keep in mind:
- If the student’s parents’ are legally separated or divorced, the FAFSA must be completed by the “custodial parent”. A custodial parent is determined by whom the student lived with most during the 12-month period prior to the date on the application.
- If the student lived equally with both parents, the parent that provided more support to the student during the year would complete the application. This support includes food, lodging, clothing and medical care.
- When determining the custodial parent, it is irrelevant which parent claims the student on their federal income tax (or who pays child support). However, the custodial parent must include child support and/or alimony received from the non-custodial parent on the FAFSA.
- It is important to know, if the custodial parent remarries the new spouse’s income and assets must be reported on the FAFSA.
- There are a number of schools in the U.S. (mostly private) that use the CSS/Financial Aid Profile. This financial aid form treats divorce differently. In most cases they require financial information from both divorced parents.
Knowing the “ins and outs” for financial aid can assist divorced families greatly. For further information, go to the FAFSA website for your free application and many answers to your questions.
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