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Complicated guardianship for financial aid?

mariah1mariah1 Posts: 1Registered User New Member
So. Here is my story. I lived with my parents for most of my life. They have always been on disability and make very little from their disability payments. As of about two years ago, I moved in with my aunt. A few months later, my father and she went to court to give her legal guardianship of me. (I'm under 18 and am not yet in college). My aunt is not wealthy, but she makes more than my parents do. (I'm not exactly sure how much; she's on a set income because she's retired). I'm going to be applying to college in about two years, and will then go to graduate shool to get a PhD. What I want to know is, whose information do I put when I apply for financial aid? Neither my aunt nor my parents will be able to pay for college, and if I'm considered independent, I don't have any income, so would I get financial aid with that? In addition, is it possible to get full financial aid to an expensive college? (55,000 per year). I am also going to try to get as many outside scholarships as I can, but I know that scholarships alone won't suffice. I'm just confused as to whose income information should go onto the financial aid form: my parents, who DO NOT have legal guardianship of me, or my aunt, who DOES have legal guardianship of me? Also, I'd rather be able to put my parents information on the form because they make substantially less money and I'd receive more financial aid. I was also contemplating moving back in with my parents (not only for financial aid purposes). Is there a certain amount of time that I'd have to legally be theirs before I'd be able to give their information for financial aid? I know barely anything about this, so an informative answer would be HUGELY appreciated. Thanks!!
Post edited by mariah1 on

Replies to: Complicated guardianship for financial aid?

  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,942Registered User Senior Member
    For FAFSA you would probably be independent as you are under legal guardianship. In which case you would provide your own financial info only for FAFSA. But for the expensive schools that require CSS they may expect parental information and/or possibly your guardians information. it will depend on the school.
  • thumper1thumper1 Posts: 35,055Registered User Senior Member
    I believe if you are in a legal guardianship you are independent for financial aid purposes. You would put ONLY your own income/assets on the FAFSA form. HOWEVER, having said that...there have been reports on this forum of some schools (I believe Bates was one) that ask for information from the guardians. No one really reported back to say what the schools DID with this information but a couple of students posted that it was requested.

    For FAFSA purposes, you use only your information. If you really aren't sure about a specific school, you could call that school and inquire whether they EVER ask for the financial information from guardians (for independent students). I would do this on the phone.

    Your family contribution will be based on your information. For schools that meet full need, this would mean you would likely receive substantial aid (unless you have signficant income and assets in your own name). For schools that do NOT meet full need, you would likely be eligible for the Pell grant (about $5200), and Stafford loan ($5500) and SEOG if your school offers it, and possibly work study. Also you might be eligible for any state grants for low income students in your state. Some schools that don't meet full need MIGHT also give you some school based grant aid.
  • OlymomOlymom Posts: 1,686Registered User Senior Member
    Don't be shy about emailing FAFSA directly with your questions. They get back to you quickly and theirs is the opinion that counts.

    I suspect what will be important is who is counting you as a dependent on the annual tax forms. IF your aunt claimed you for 2010, then I suspect you have to use her income for the current FAFSA. IF you move back in with your parents for more than six months of 2011 and they claim you as their dependent for 2011 tax purposes, then you would use them. Again the FAFSA help desk could clarify this. Good luck
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,942Registered User Senior Member
    I suspect what will be important is who is counting you as a dependent on the annual tax forms. IF your aunt claimed you for 2010, then I suspect you have to use her income for the current FAFSA.
    No, that is not the case at all for FAFSA. The only people who ever count as parents on FAFSA are parents (including step parents and adoptive parents). Guardians, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles etc are never reported on FAFSA (unless they have legally adopted the student). Having claimed the student on tax return does not make a difference. FAFSA rules are quite clear on this.
    A foster parent, legal guardian or a grandparent or other relative is not treated as a parent for purposes of filing a FAFSA unless that person has legally adopted the applicant. An adoptive parent is treated in the same manner as a biological parent on the FAFSA.
  • kelsmomkelsmom Posts: 12,474Super Moderator Senior Member
    If the guardianship is a full legal guardianship (not a limited guardianship, which is more to allow another adult to make decisions in the absence of the parents), and it is in effect up until the age of majority (18), the student is ALWAYS independent for FAFSA purposes. The guardian's income info cannot be used on the FAFSA. In the past, students had to either get the parent info (even if the student was in guardianship) or get a dependency override. A couple years ago, the feds changed the rules & those in full guardianship up the age of 18 are independent; schools generally require the court documents to support the claim of guardianship.

    As noted, some schools may require guardian info for purposes of dishing out their own aid. I suspect this is pretty rare.
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