Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents are Divorced

If your parents are divorced, list the parent who provided the most financial support in the last year.
Eliza Haverstock
Anna Helhoski
By Anna Helhoski and  Eliza Haverstock 
Updated

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When can I update my FAFSA application? The redesigned FAFSA for the 2024-25 academic year is available at FAFSA.gov. After major delays, the FAFSA corrections process opened on April 16 to students and families who submitted incorrect or incomplete forms.

You can still submit the 2023-24 FAFSA until June 30, 2024.

The 2024-25 FAFSA treats divorced parents differently than married parents. If you have divorced parents, the parent who provided the most financial support over past 12 months is considered a FAFSA "contributor" and will need to fill out a section of the form on their own.

There are also a few special situations to know:

  • If both parents provide equal financial support, then the parent who has greater income or assets will fill out the FAFSA.

  • If the parent who supports you most financially is remarried as of when you submit your FAFSA, then your stepparent will also be a contributor if they didn't file a joint tax return, or if they legally adopted you.

  • If your parents are divorced, but they live together, then both parents will fill out the FAFSA.

This is a significant change from previous years, when the FAFSA only considered the parent with whom the student lives most of the time, regardless of whether they provide the most financial support.

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Steps for filling out the 2024-25 FAFSA for students with divorced parents

  1. Determine which parent provided more financial support over the last 12 months.

  2. This parent must request an FSA ID, which they will use to access and fill out their portion of the FAFSA.

  3. The parent must consent to a Direct Data Exchange with the IRS, which automatically transfers financial information to the FAFSA.

  4. The parent must submit their portion of the FAFSA.

When the FAFSA asks about your parents’ education level, answer for your birth parents or adoptive parents. Your stepparent is not considered your parent for these two questions.

The 2023-24 FAFSA treats divorced parents differently

You have until June 30, 2024 to submit the FAFSA for the 2023-24 academic year. To submit the 2023-24 FAFSA, you must determine which parent is your custodial parent, rather than the one who provides the most financial support. If your parents have joint custody of you, the custodial parent is the parent you have spent the most time living with in the past 12 months or, if you split time evenly, then include the information of the parent that provided the most financial support in the previous 12 months.

Fill out the FAFSA with your custodial parent’s information and your stepparent, if you have one. Include any child support or alimony paid to your custodial parent.

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