FAFSA Guide

FAFSA Guide

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Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents are Divorced

Sept. 20, 2019
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Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents are Divorced

Sept. 20, 2019
Loans, Student Loans

The FAFSA treats divorced parents differently than married parents. If you have divorced parents, you should list the financial information for the parent you have lived with most in the past 12 months. This parent is known as your “custodial parent”.

If your custodial parent is remarried as of when you submit your FAFSA, include your stepparent’s financial information as well.

» MORE: FAFSA checklist

Steps for filling out the FAFSA for students with divorced parents

  1. Determine which parent is your custodial parent. 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.
  2. Fill out the FAFSA with your custodial parent’s information and your stepparent, if you have one.
  3. Include any child support or alimony paid to your custodial parent.
  4. When the FAFSA asks about your parents’ education level, they want you to answer for your birth parents or adoptive parents. Your stepparent is not considered your parent for these two questions.

» MORE: 5 FAFSA tips to save you time when applying


Advice from University Financial Aid Officers

If your parents are divorced or separated, answer the questions about the parent with whom you lived more during the past 12 months. If this parent is remarried as of today, answer the questions on the FAFSA about that parent and the person whom your parent married (your stepparent). If you lived the same amount of time with each divorced parent, give answers about the parent who provided more financial support during the past 12 months or during the most recent 12 months that you actually received support from a parent.

— Department of Education

>>MORE: Learn about the best student loans for parents

Go back to the FAFSA guide

FAFSA Guide

Advertiser Disclosure

Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents are Married

Sept. 20, 2019
Loans, Student Loans
At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. However, this doesn’t influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own.
Advertiser Disclosure

Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents are Married

Sept. 20, 2019
Loans, Student Loans

If your parents are married, you should submit financial information for both of them to the FAFSA. If your parents refuse to pay for college or submit information for the FAFSA, you can’t be considered independent of your parents, and you still have to submit their information. There are very few situations in which you can get a dependency override, such as situations of abuse, neglect, incarceration or unknown whereabouts.

» MORE: FAFSA checklist

Steps for filling out the FAFSA for students with married parents

  1. In Step 4 (Parent), state that your parents’ marital status is “married.”
  2. Fill out the FAFSA with both parents’ income and assets.

» MORE: What are the FAFSA requirements?


Advice from University Financial Aid Officers

Although some schools don’t like to say “contact the financial aid office for more info” (because of the volume of questions) I feel that this is the only real way to judge a single student’s situation and give advice accordingly. For this reason, I would just tell a student to submit their application as best they can and contact their school’s office. A lot of students think that not fully completing the FAFSA is the same as not turning it in, but it’s not! It’s best to submit it, even if some questions were skipped or financial figures were estimated.

— Marco Siliezar, Financial Aid Analyst at California State University’s California Maritime Academy

>>MORE: Learn about the best student loans for parents

Go back to the FAFSA guide