FAFSA Guide

FAFSA Guide

Filling Out the FAFSA: I Live With Legal Guardians or Foster Parents

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Filling Out the FAFSA: I Live With Legal Guardians or Foster Parents

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The FAFSA can be difficult for non-traditional families to navigate. Neither legal guardians nor foster parents are considered parents by the FAFSA, so you do not have to list their income and household size information on your FAFSA.

Unless your legal guardian or foster parents have legally adopted you, the FAFSA does not consider them to be your parents on the form. If they have legally adopted you, they are considered to be your parents, and you should include their information on the form.

If your parents are deceased, you have been legally emancipated, or you were a ward of the court at any time after the age of 13, the FAFSA considers you to be an independent student. You are likely to be considered an independent student if you live with legal guardians or foster parents.
Any support received from legal guardians or foster parents should be reported on Worksheet B as income for the student.

Steps for filling out the FAFSA if you live with legal guardians or foster parents

  1. In Step 3 (Student), check “yes” for any applicable questions, which are likely to be numbers 52 (At any time since you turned age 13, were both of your parents deceased, were you in foster care or were you a dependent or ward of the court) or 54 (As determined by a court in your state of legal residence, are you or were you in a legal guardianship?).
  2. Skip all of Step 4 (Parent).
  3. Include your personal income and assets on the FAFSA.
  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.

Advice from University Financial Aid Officers

If you can’t provide information about your parents on the FAFSA, then please skip Steps 4 and 5, and go to Step 6. You can still submit your application without your parent’s information. Call the Financial Aid Office at the school you plan to attend once you submit the application and they will be happy to help you.
— Marco Siliezar

Financial Aid Analyst at California State University’s California Maritime Academy
The following people are not your parents unless they have adopted you: grandparents, foster parents, legal guardians, older brothers or sisters, and uncles or aunts.

— Department of Education

FAFSA Guide

Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents are Same Sex Partners

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Filling Out the FAFSA: My Parents are Same Sex Partners

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The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was ruled unconstitutional in June 2013, giving same-sex couples equal opportunity to participate in federal government programs such as Medicaid, military spousal benefits, and filing for financial aid for college. LGBT families were previously not recognized on the FAFSA and students were instructed to fill out the form as if their parents were divorced, listing the income and contributions of only one parent. Likewise, same-sex partners filling out the form could not list their spouse on the application, as their marriage was not recognized by the federal government.

Now students with married same-sex parents will list the contributions and income of both parents.

Steps for filling out the FAFSA for LGBT families

  1. Fill out the FAFSA with both your parents’ income and assets.
  2. You do not need to list both parents on the FAFSA if they do not live together or they are not both your legal parents. You are required to list a step-parent who is married to your legal parent. In Step 4 (Parent), state that your parents’ marital status is married if they are married.

Advice from University Financial Aid Officers

Advice from University Financial Aid Officers: For question #58 that asks about your parents’ marital status, FAFSA will now use gender neutral terms such as “Parent 1” and “Parent 2” to distinguish between parents.

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

FAFSA Guide

Filling Out the FAFSA: I am a U.S. Citizen, But My Parents are Undocumented Immigrants

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Filling Out the FAFSA: I am a U.S. Citizen, But My Parents are Undocumented Immigrants

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All U.S. citizens are eligible for federal financial aid, regardless of their parents’ immigration status. If you are a citizen but your parents are undocumented immigrants, you should fill out the FAFSA and include their financial information.

If you fill in the parental information using a fake social security number or one that is only valid for work purposes, the application will be rejected. If your parent does not have a social security number, use 000-00-0000 as his or her social security number.

Steps for filling out the FAFSA for citizens with undocumented immigrant parents

  1. For the parental information section, include your parent’s financial information.
  2. Write 000-00-0000 as your parent’s social security number.
  3. Contact your university’s financial aid office and explain your situation; see if they have university-specific advice or protocols.

Advice from University Financial Aid Officers

You can still submit the FAFSA if your parents are undocumented. When the application asks for your parents’ social security numbers, please enter 000-00-0000.

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

>>MORE: A financial guide for immigrants in the U.S.

FAFSA Guide

Filling Out the FAFSA: I am an Undocumented Immigrant

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Filling Out the FAFSA: I am an Undocumented Immigrant

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Undocumented immigrants are ineligible for federal funds, but you can still get aid from your university. Some states allow undocumented immigrants to obtain in-state tuition, and undocumented students are eligible for some private scholarships as well. Some schools even offer aid specifically for undocumented immigrants. Berkeley offers $1 million in a scholarship fund earmarked for undocumented immigrants.

Texas, California, New York, Illinois, Utah, Nebraska, Washington, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Kansas and Maryland (only for community colleges) have state laws allowing undocumented immigrants who have attended 3+ years of high school in the state to qualify for in-state tuition. Many more states are considering legislation on the issue, so ask your university if you are eligible for in-state tuition.

Steps for filling out the FAFSA for undocumented immigrants

  1. Do not complete the FAFSA before talking to your school’s financial aid office.
  2. 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 the FAFSA with a Social Security number of 000-00-0000 to obtain an Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which they may use to determine your aid award. Some states have passed their own version of the Dream Act, so they may ask you to fill out their state Dream Act paperwork instead of a FAFSA.
  3. If you are applying to a school that offers in-state tuition, ask the financial aid office if you can qualify for the reduced in-state tuition rate.
  4. Apply for private scholarships and grants.

Advice from University Financial Aid Officers

Unfortunately, federal financial aid is unavailable for undocumented students. There are some states that offer in-state tuition and some grants even for undocumented immigrants. Please contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend for more information. There are also some scholarships that do not require legal residency status.

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

>>MORE: A financial guide for immigrants in the U.S.