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RE: Divorced Parents and Financial Aid

lasermouse9lasermouse9 Posts: 201Registered User Junior Member
In all honesty, I'm sure this is commonly asked question, but I am unable to find a post regarding it. If someone could redirect me that would be great.

The question is simply: my parents have joint custody of me. Whose income do I use to fill out the FAFSA and institutional FinAid forms? Moms? Dads? Both? I won't be doing this until next year (I'm a junior), but I'm just curious.

Related Questions:

In my case, would I get to choose which parent's income I use to file my request, and may this change year to year depending on circumstances?

If the EFC comprises both parent's incomes, does it at least account for the fact that both of my parents pay rent, utilities, cable, etc, and thus lower the contribution total?

Certain top colleges (the ones I've got my sights set on), often offer no-loan financial aid to families of a certain income level. Does this institutional system account for one parent or both?


Any amount of help given will be much appreciated. I'd REALLY enjoy some personal anectdotes.

Thanks,
Ryan
Post edited by lasermouse9 on

Replies to: RE: Divorced Parents and Financial Aid

  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 15,052Registered User Senior Member
    FAFSA you report the parent you live with the most. If the time spent is equal then it is the parent providing the most financial support. If the parent is remarried the spouse's financial information must also be reported.

    For CSS/profile both parents (and their spouses where applicable) financial information must be reported.

    The institutional system of top colleges account for both parents (and spouses if applicable).
  • vballmomvballmom Posts: 3,132Super Moderator Senior Member
    For FAFSA, you'll provide your "custodial" parent's income along with that parent's spouse, if remarried.

    From finaid.org with regards to FAFSA:
    Financial aid applications can be somewhat confusing because there are several different criteria applied for different kinds of parenthood:

    1. The parent with whom the child lived the most during the past 12 months.
    2. The parent who provided the most financial support to the child during the past 12 months.
    3. The parent who provided more than half the child's support (and will continue to do so).
    4. The parent who has legal custody.
    5. The parent who claimed the child as a dependent on their tax return.
    6. The parent who provided the most financial support to the child during the most recent calendar year for which either parent provided more support to the child.
    7. The parent with the greater income.

    As noted above, criteria 1, 2 and 6 are used for determining the custodial parent, with the first criteria being primary. In a situation where the parents split all costs equally (without even a penny difference), criterion number 7 is often used.

    FinAid | Answering Your Questions | Divorce and Financial Aid

    Note: the answer is not who claimed you on his/her taxes, because this is irrelevant for financial aid.

    For Institutional Method, you'll need to provide both parents' income, with the same one you used for FAFSA as the custodial parent. Any step parents' income must be included here as well if applicable. Colleges use the institutional forms and run your answers through their own formulas, which may or may not take into account the additional expenses of maintaining two households.

    As far as your question regarding changing from year to year, my guess is that you probably should just stick with the initial custodial parent through all 4 years of filing. To do otherwise might raise eyebrows at your college. That's just my guess though, perhaps someone else with this experience will weigh in.
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 15,052Registered User Senior Member
    7. The parent with the greater income.

    As noted above, criteria 1, 2 and 6 are used for determining the custodial parent, with the first criteria being primary. In a situation where the parents split all costs equally (without even a penny difference), criterion number 7 is often used.

    Wow - ouch!
  • ChedvaChedva Posts: 20,047Super Moderator Senior Member
    In my case, would I get to choose which parent's income I use to file my request, and may this change year to year depending on circumstances?
    Short answer: No. See definitions above.
    If the EFC comprises both parent's incomes, does it at least account for the fact that both of my parents pay rent, utilities, cable, etc, and thus lower the contribution total?
    The algorithms are supposed to take into account the maintenance of two households (but they don't care about utilities or cable for married or divorced households). Whether they do so equitably or not is another issue.
  • songmansongman Posts: 392Registered User Member
    Ok how about this. My niece received some aid for 2007 when her parents were married not much like $3,000 and they took loans for the rest. Now her parents are getting a divorce. The husband (my brother-in - law) has sunken them into financial ruin. The house is going to foreclosure and he may file for bankruptcy. Her mother quickly obtained a job to feed the kids but will make under $35,000 per year. Should the mother file her return for 2007 and claim the college daughter or should she let the daughter claim herself on her own return (daughter had summer job earned $5,000) .so the daughter qualifies for more aid???. Or will they (FAFSA- fin aid office) still try to get the deadbeat dad to file and pay in addition to what the mother earns...help!!! Need answer before 4/15- thanks to all!!
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 15,052Registered User Senior Member
    It does not matter whether the daughter claims herself on her own tax return - for FAFSA she is a dependent unless she is 24 (or meets other criteria - married, has a dependent, is a veteran etc etc).

    She (the daughter) should still file return in order to get any overpayment of taxes refunded to her. She gets a standard deduction even if her Mom claims her as a dependent.

    FAFSA requires only the financial info of the parent that the daughter lives with.
  • ChedvaChedva Posts: 20,047Super Moderator Senior Member
    However, some schools may still require "deadbeat dad" to file, and will consider that income as available for college. The fact that a dad doesn't want to pay is irrelevant to the colleges.
  • songmansongman Posts: 392Registered User Member
    thank you- Swimcatsmom and Chedva- so the issue with becoming independent or emancipated is out unless she is married, miltary etc. no toher sicumstances? - if she rents on her own and supports herself with a part time job how long does she have to wait before they would consider her own income and not the parents? I fear that the father will refuse to fill out any forms or provide tax returns (he will be broke) and she will have to leave college......thanks
  • swimcatsmomswimcatsmom Posts: 15,052Registered User Senior Member
    Does not matter if she rents on her own and supports herself. My son dropped out for 2 1/2years, worked and completely supported himself paying his own rent, bills etc - we did not claim him on our taxes as we were not paying 1/2 his support - when he went back to school at 21 he was still considered a dependent for FAFSA purposes. His girlfriend, who is a couple of years older, was in the same boat - she had not lived at home for 4 years when she went back to school at 23 - she was still considered a dependent and had to give her parents info - this year she is independent as she is turning 24. Unless she meets the other criteria (none of which relate to self supporting etc) she is a dependent till she is 24.

    If she is in a FAFSA only school her Dad's info will not be required - just the custodial parent. If she is in a school that requires CSS/profile they will require both parents info.
  • tlesc01tlesc01 Posts: 420Registered User Member
    I live with my mom, so I used her income and left my father's blank for the FAFSA.

    Using the College Board CSS profile, Georgetown required that I file a non-custodial parent form. This was a challenge getting my dad to fill it out; he submitted it on the due date and who knows what he put on it, considering his contribution came out to be less than my mom's in my financial aid while his income is substantially more.
  • songmansongman Posts: 392Registered User Member
    Thanks everyone!
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