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.
» MORE: FAFSA checklist
Steps for filling out the FAFSA if you live with legal guardians or foster parents
- 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?).
- Skip all of Step 4 (Parent).
- Include your personal income and assets on the FAFSA.
- Report any financial support received from legal guardians or foster parents on Worksheet B as personal income.
- 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