Father choosen on FASFA

I am applying for FASFA as you know, and my father was incarcerated in 2018, and they are asking for information on his taxes and other stuff. I just put zero dollars, then for his income is like 1600$ in a month. 600 a week’

asking in 2018, which he was in prison.
so he didn’t’ file taxes, will this affect my income I get from fasfa? should I go with my mother that’s making 15,000 but going to get a second job soon?

FAFSA rules state that your custodial parent is the one with whom you have lived more in the past year. You don’t get to pick which one is more convenient for you or yields the most aid. That said, one can plan ahead to live with the parent whose financials are more beneficial financial aid wise

You also don’t just put down numbers as guesses for income. They May have to be verified. If you have been living with your father more than your mother in the last year, then your father is your custodial parent for FAFSA purposes. If he did not file a tax return for 2018, you pick the “did not file tax return box”. You still need to report any income he had that year, and have your father get the W2s and 1099s that may have been issued to him. He can get an ITS tax transcript for that year that would list what was reported as income for him.

You may be asked to verify that he did not file taxes in 2018. To do this, you will need to submit a Verification of Non-Filing Letter from the IRS for your IRS Form 4506-T will give your Dad such a Verification. In addition, many schools require a parent to submit a Tax Non-Filing Statement, in which the parent indicates types and amounts of income received in the subject year. That’s where the tax transcript will be useful. You should also let the FA office that your father was incarcerated that year, and verification of those dates may be needed

As a side here, in such situations, where the student lived the last year with one parent but did get support in the FAFSA key year from another parent or others, if , say, in this case, custodial parent had little or no income , was not around , does that fall under untaxed income to the student?

I know of one college that is a stickler for this sort of stuff—I worked at a place where FAFSAs were completed with the parent, and saw it first hand. Someone other than the now custodial parent may have been paying for things on behalf of the student.

You don’t “get income” from FAFSA. It is a form that determines your eligibility for financial aid. And if you live your mom more than 51% of the time, you have to use her information. She is your custodial parent (am assuming you are a dependent).


  1. The FAFSA is an application for aid. FAFSA does not distribute money. It’s a form used to determine primarily what federally funded need based aid you qualify to receive.
  2. You can’t file the 2021-2022 FAFSA until October 1. Is that the one you are talking about? It’s for the the 2021-2022 academic year? That one will use 2019 incomes.

Or are you just now completing the 2020-2021 FAFSA? That is the one for the 2020-2021 academic year. That one uses 2018 income.

  1. Are your parents living together now and do you live with both of them? If so, you will include both parent incomes on your FAFSA form. Honestly, it doesn’t matter where your dad was living in the tax year required for the FAFSA you are completing. His income will need to be included if you live with both parents.
  2. If your parents are legally separated or divorced on the date you file your FAFSA form, then you use only the parent with whom you resided 51% of the time in the 365 days prior to that date of filing.
  3. If your parents were married in 2018 (or 2019 depending on what form you are completing), is there some reason why they didn’t file a joint return?

Please clarify.

Is this your first FAFSA application or have you applied before? If your dad was in prison for the majority of 2018 you can’t put him as your custodial parent on the FAFSA form.

Submitting the FAFSA lets you be considered for 2 types of aid. The first type is a Pell Grant. If your custodial parent is low income then you may qualify for a Pell Grant of up to $6,000/year. That doesn’t have to be paid back. The second type is a federal student loan. The maximum federal student loan you can take is $5500/year as a freshman, $6500 as a sophomore, and $7500/year as a junior and senior.

Where are you planning to go to school? Their financial aid office should be a good source of information.

@austinmshauri I’m not sure this is true. The custodial parent is the one you live with the majority if time for the 365 days prior to the date of filing your FAFSA.

If this student is filing now, and dad is who the student lives with, it doesn’t matter where dad lived in 2018.


@thumper1, I think you’re right about that. The income used is from 2018 but I think the custodial parent is based on the last 365 days. If that’s true, OP has to use the 2018 income of whichever parent they’ve lived with most in the year before they filed the FAFSA.

I would like to hear more details of the situation. Did you live with your father more than 50% of the time during the year previous to filing your FAFSA? Do you have a relationship with your mom? Are your parents married?


Please answer the questions I posed as well as the ones @kelsmom posed.

The answers are important in terms of answering your questions.