FAFSA Guide

FAFSA Guide

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Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents Were Never Married

Sept. 20, 2019
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Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents Were Never Married

Sept. 20, 2019
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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.

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


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

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

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FAFSA Guide

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Filling Out the FAFSA: I am Legally Emancipated

Sept. 20, 2019
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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.
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Filling Out the FAFSA: I am Legally Emancipated

Sept. 20, 2019
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The FAFSA can be difficult for non-traditional families to navigate. Students who are/were emancipated minors, as determined by a court, do not have to include their parents’ financial information on the FAFSA.

Any support received from friends or relatives should be reported on Worksheet B as income for the student.

» MORE: FAFSA checklist

Steps for filling out the FAFSA for emancipated minors

  1. Include your personal income and assets on the FAFSA.
  2. In Step 3 (Student), check “yes” for question 53 (As determined by a court in your legal state of residence, are you or were you an emancipated minor?).
  3. Skip all of Step 4 (Parent).
  4. Report any financial support received from legal guardians or foster parents on Worksheet B as personal income.
  5. Contact your university’s financial aid office and explain your situation; see if they have university-specific advice or protocols.

» MORE: How to take out student loans without your parents


Advice from University Financial Aid Officers

Students who are deemed to be an emancipated minor (youth who has obtained a court order legally releasing you from control of your parent or guardian) have more access to financial aid. Emancipated minors are considered independent students for financial aid purposes, and students will potentially have to provide documentation of their status to the financial aid office at their school of choice.

— Amy Cable, Director of Financial Aid at Mid-South Community College

» MORE: Here are private student loans you can get without a co-signer

Go back to the FAFSA guide