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FAFSA household size?

daniellenanettedaniellenanette Posts: 2Registered User New Member
For question #75 (enter the number of family members in your parents' household), I'm not sure if I should include my sister. She is 21 and has lived on her own since she was 19, but according to the FAFSA, she could answer no to every question in questions 48-60.

I guess they also use a "support test"?

"Support includes money, gifts, loans, housing, food, clothes, car payments or expenses, medical and dental care and payment of school costs."

My sister pays her own bills (rent, utilities, car payments) as well as other expenses such as clothing, gas and food (even though she comes over many times a week to raid our fridge). My parents pay for her cell phone as well as any other medical and dental bills. She is also considering going to college soon, which would be payed for by my parents.

My mom seems to think that she should not be included in the household size because she isn't providing for more than half of my sisters' support and she isn't living with us anymore. What do you think?
Post edited by daniellenanette on

Replies to: FAFSA household size?

  • KKmamaKKmama Posts: 1,670Registered User Senior Member
    I think your mother is correct.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    Your Mom is wrong. She should be included. The basic rule is that if she decided to go to school and would be considered a dependent student if she filed her own FAFSA, you include her as a member of the household.

    The instructions are that you include in the household number
    Your parents' other children, if your parents will provide more than half of their support from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 or if the other children could answer "No" to every question in Questions 45-57.

    It is an "or" requirement, not an "and" requirement - this is an important distinction (just like in taxes). If it said "and", then she would have to meet both requirements. But as it says "or" only one must be met and your sister meets the second part of the requirement "if the other children could answer "No" to every question in Questions 45-57" (which are the questions regarding dependency)
  • thumper1thumper1 Posts: 36,876Registered User Senior Member
    I believe you mom is correct.
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 33,181Registered User Senior Member
    Your sister doesn't live with you & your parents don't provide more than half of her upkeep. She wouldn't be considered a member of your household.
    When the situation changes that they then pay more than 50% of her expenses ( such as when she goes off to college), then they would claim her.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    We actually went through this and investigated it when my daughter started college. My son was 21, did not live with us, was not in college, and we did not support him. We were told that we should include him because he could answer no to all the the dependency questions.
    Your parents' other children, if your parents will provide more than half of their support from July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2012 or if the other children could answer "No" to every question in Questions 45-57
  • emeraldkity4emeraldkity4 Posts: 33,181Registered User Senior Member
    That is pretty interesting swimcatsmom & good to know.
    So FAFSA will count in the household, even if the IRS wouldn't.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    Yes. IRS dependency and FAFSA dependency are quite different. When my son did return to school the following year at 22, he was a dependent for FAFSA purposes and had to report parent income and assets. We had not claimed him on our taxes for several years and had not been supporting him.
  • thumper1thumper1 Posts: 36,876Registered User Senior Member
    Thank you Swimcatsmom. Your research is real life. I do wonder what happens if this sibling does NOT return to college....would she still be included in the number?
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    Yes. We included him the first year as he could have answered no to all the dependency questions if he had been filing FAFSA (that is what I was told to do when I asked the question). At that time we had no real expectation that he would return to school. That happened the following year.

    I think when we first were completing her FAFSA, we had not included him (we never did FAFSA when he was first in school - I thought it was for people much poorer than us!), but the way the instructions were worded made me wonder if we should. So I asked and was told to include him. We had a special circumstances adjustment that year for high medical expenses, so it probably did not end up making a huge difference in our case.

    It probably does not make a huge difference (unlike the # in school question). It increases the income protection - how much difference that would make actually to the EFC would depend on the income level of the parent.
  • daniellenanettedaniellenanette Posts: 2Registered User New Member
    Thanksfor responding everyone! I'm not sure if it will change the outcome of anything, but I will include her in the household size.
  • nautilus6226nautilus6226 Posts: 2Registered User New Member
    I need FAFSA help! The question that asks for, "the number of people in your parents' household attending college is _" I put 0 because I am not living with my parents, in fact I don't even live in the same state. FAFSA wouldn't let me move on with that answer though. According to FAFSA, I am dependent. Should I put "one" anyway? Does household mean physically living there or just in accordance to being dependent?
  • OHMomof2OHMomof2 Posts: 3,511Registered User Senior Member
    I think you have to put "1" if you are not independent. FAFSA independent is pretty specific.
  • CTScoutmomCTScoutmom Posts: 1,315Registered User Senior Member
    Tax household is not the same as FAFSA household. Tax dependency is not the same as FAFSA dependency. FAFSA does ask for tax return information, but that's as far as the relationship goes.

    Siblings who would not be considered independent, if they were filing FAFSA are still dependents. You are a dependent, unless you meet the strict requirements FAFSA sets out. If you are a dependent, then you are part of their household, and you count as being a household member in college.

    daniellenannette, you include your sister. It may or may not make a difference.
    nautilus6226 - yes, make sure you are including yourself in their household size, and the number in college. Note that if you have siblings who also don't live with your parents, they may also be part of the household, and if they are in college, they are shown there as well - even if your parents are not supporting any of you. It is to your advantage to include them, and well within the rules.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 14,996Registered User Senior Member
    nautilus - for FAFSA purposes, you are a member of your parents' household even if you do not live with them (unless you are able to answer yes to one of the dependency questions - age 24+ etc). So you would include yourself in the number in household and also in the number in college.
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