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.
Steps for filling out the FAFSA for students with divorced parents
- 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.
- Fill out the FAFSA with your custodial parent’s information and your stepparent, if you have one.
- Include any child support or alimony paid to your custodial parent.
- 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.
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