Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents Were Never Married

Your custodial parent — the parent you have lived with the most in the past 12 months — will complete the FAFSA.
Anna HelhoskiAug 17, 2021

Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.

Biological parents who were never married and don't live together are treated similarly to parents that have been divorced. One parent, referred to as the "custodial parent", will complete the FAFSA. The custodial parent is the parent you have lived with the most in the past 12 months.

If your custodial parent receives child support or alimony, you must list that as income on the FAFSA.

If your parents were never married but live together, then you must provide information for both parents.

» MORE: FAFSA checklist

Steps for Filling Out the FAFSA if your parents were never married

  1. In Step 4 (Parent), state that your parents' marital status is "single."

  2. Determine which of your parents is your "custodial parent." The custodial parent is likely to be the higher earner.

  3. Fill out the FAFSA with your custodial parent's income and assets.

  4. Do not include your "non-custodial" parent in your reported household size unless they live with you and receive more than 50% of their financial support from your custodial parent.

  5. Report financial support you receive from your "non-custodial" parent under the category of untaxed income.

  6. Contact your university’s financial aid office and explain your situation; see if they have university-specific advice or protocols. They may ask you to fill out a non-custodial parent form.

Advice from University Financial Aid Officers

The custodial parent for federal student aid purposes is the parent with whom you lived the most during the past 12 months. If your parent is widowed or was never married, answer the questions about that parent.

— Department of Education

Spot your saving opportunities
See your spending breakdown to show your top spending trends and where you can cut back.