I don’t have any good answers to this but I’m remarried and so is my ex. We’ve given up on getting ANY financial aid. My ex retired early (disabled) and doesn’t work, I also don’t work. If we were both not remarried I believe our children would all be getting probably close to a free ride for college.
The government is really penalizing people for getting married again. With children who’ve already suffered with their parents splitting up, you’d think as a society we wouldn’t punish those parents that do go on to try to provide some stability with remarriage opposed to just shacking up. I don’t know any step parents that plan on contributing even $1 to their step kids college, its crazy. Now we have a split system in our family where half the kids get their choice of schools fully paid for and the other half has to go to state schools and take out loans.