Advertisement
Paying for College

Divorce and the FAFSA

The federal college aid formula considers only the finances of the custodial parent.

My parents are divorced, and I am wondering who should file the FAFSA financial-aid forms. My primary address is with my mother, but she only makes $15,000 a year and receives $20,000 a year in child support. My father and stepmom make $170,000 per year. Should my mom file the FAFSA, even though my dad says he is paying for my college? If my dad and stepmom file, won't this hurt my chances of receiving financial aid because of their income? How does this work with divorced parents who are remarried?

Advertisement - Article continues below

It looks like you're in luck: The federal aid formula considers only the finances of the custodial parent (the parent you lived with the most in the past 12 months). If the custodial parent is remarried, the stepparent's income and assets are considered, too.

But the federal formula doesn't include the financial resources of the noncustodial parent -- regardless of any agreements the parents have made about who will pay for college. State aid formulas are generally the same.

Some private colleges, however, do ask about the noncustodial parent's income and assets on their own aid forms and consider the resources of both parents -- as well as the custodial parent's spouse. But they generally don't consider the income and assets of the noncustodial parent's spouse.

A few colleges use the income and assets of both natural parents without asking for any information from the stepparents when calculating financial aid. It's a good idea to ask up front about the school's financial-aid formula, which could make a big difference in the amount of aid you could receive.

For more information about qualifying for financial aid and filing the aid forms, which you can do any time after January 1, see Everything You Need to Know About Financial Aid. For more information about financial aid for divorced families, see FinAid.org's Divorce and Financial Aid page.

Advertisement
Advertisement

Most Popular

Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans
taxes

Election 2020: Joe Biden's Tax Plans

With the economy in trouble, tax policy takes on added importance in the 2020 presidential election. So, let's take a look at what Joe Biden has said …
September 18, 2020
11 Dividend-Paying Stocks You Should Think Twice About
dividend stocks

11 Dividend-Paying Stocks You Should Think Twice About

Dividend-paying stocks often can be a store of safety, but 2020 has been difficult on income equities. These 11 picks look like shaky plays despite th…
September 21, 2020
Medicare Basics: 11 Things You Need to Know
Medicare

Medicare Basics: 11 Things You Need to Know

There's Medicare Part A, Part B, Part D, medigap plans, Medicare Advantage plans and so on. We sort out the confusion about signing up for Medicare --…
September 16, 2020

Recommended

When Is Amazon Prime Day 2020?
spending

When Is Amazon Prime Day 2020?

Circumstances beyond its control have forced Amazon to move its annual Christmas-in-July Amazon Prime Day blowout sale in 2020 to ... later. Is Oct. …
September 22, 2020
18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon
Smart Buying

18 Things You Can't Return to Amazon

Before tossing these items into your virtual shopping cart, be sure to read Amazon's return policy first.
September 17, 2020
No Summer Vacation This Year? What to Do with the Money You’ve Saved
spending

No Summer Vacation This Year? What to Do with the Money You’ve Saved

Maybe that trip to Hawaii you dreamed about didn’t happen, but look at the bright side: You have a nice little windfall to plan for.
September 2, 2020
The Five Top Consumer Complaints
Smart Buying

The Five Top Consumer Complaints

Here are the top five complaints from a survey of state and local agencies from 19 states.
August 27, 2020