Your family’s particular circumstances is a significant factor that impacts the information you will need to prepare and what to put in your FAFSA.
Here are some different family circumstances and a summary of what you will need to keep in mind for each:
Are your Parents Married?
If so, in step 4, select “married” and make sure to include income details from both of your parents in the FAFSA.
Are your Parents Divorced?
You will need to determine which of your parents is your custodial parent. This is usually the parent you spend the most time with.
When filling out the FAFSA, use your custodial parent’s income information. If you have a step-parent, include their income as well.
Special note: Child support or alimony paid to your custodial parent should be included in their total income.
However, when asking about your parents’ level of education, the FAFSA means your biological parents, not your step parents.
Were your parents never married?
If so, select “single” in step 4. Then, determine which of your parents is your custodian. This is often the parent with the highest income.
Fill out the FAFSA with only your custodial parent’s income details. You should not include the other parent’s (non-custodian) details.
If you do receive any money from your non-custodian parent, add it under untaxed income.
Do you live with legal guardians of foster parents?
If so, select “yes” in step 3, for possibly appropriate questions like number 52, or 54.
Skip step 4. Only include your income details in the FAFSA.
In case you receive any financial support from your legal guardians, include it in the Worksheet B as personal income.
Get in touch with your chosen school’s Financial aid office to see if they have any specific requirements or protocols for your situation.
Are your parents, same-sex partners?
Same-sex partners are the same as heterosexual partners. If you have same-sex parents, you will treat this the same as any other couple. If they are married, state so. If they never married, select single.
There is one difference though; you will need to distinguish between your step-parent and your legal parent.
Also, if your parents are same-sex, list both their income in the FAFSA.
Do you qualify for a Dependency Override?
In certain cases it can be unsuitable to include a parent’s financial information.
For example, if they are incarcerated or institutionalized. In this event, a university can grant what is called a “dependency override” to the student.
This means that their parents’ financial information will be disregarded for the FAFSA.
Don’t know your parents’ whereabouts?
Another situation that allows for your parents’ financial information to be disregarded for a FAFSA is if you do not know their whereabouts, as this makes their financial situation irrelevant to your application.
Do you have an abusive or neglectful parent?
Having a neglectful or abusive parent can also qualify you for a dependency override from your selected university and would allow you to disregard your parent’s financial information for the FAFSA.
Are You Legally Emancipated?
If so, then select “yes” in step 4, question 53 and you may skip section 4.
If you do receive income from a legal guardian or foster parent, do include it in Worksheet B as personal income.
We also recommend contacting your chosen university to discuss your situation to see if they have any specific protocols in place.