Separated, unemployed mother question about FAFSA and filing single/joint tax return

<p>I am a separated, unemployed mother whose child lives with me full time. I did fill out the FAFSA using my information. My child and I live in the home owned by me and my soon-to-be ex, and he did not live with us in 2011. He continues to pay the mortgage and provides financial support. For the purpose of financial aid, is it better if we file tax returns separately or jointly, or does it matter? Thanks!</p>

<p>As long as you separated out your AGI, taxes, assets, etc. for FAFSA, it doesn't matter whether you file your taxes jointly or separately.</p>

<p>*He continues to pay the mortgage and provides financial support. *</p>

<p>I think that you have to include that in some way on FAFSA.</p>

<p>Your IRS tax filing status has nothing to do with your child's financial aid. If you are receiving child or spousal support, this is included on the FAFSA.</p>

<p>^^^</p>

<p>Thumper, if the H is paying the mortgage, then that may not technically be spousal support. But, doesn't that need to be included somewhere in some way? If so, how?</p>

<p>There is a section for "bills paid on your behalf". If someone else is paying your mortgage, I would think it would go there.</p>

<p>The "money received", or "bills paid on your behalf", section applies to students only. There is no section on FAFSA asking this information of parents, which is why parents don't have to report gifts and students do.</p>

<p>Sk8rmom...I understand that...but the rent IS being paid on the student's residence by someone. I think that is where this is reported.</p>

<p>Thumper, I disagree because that mortgage is not the student's responsibility, is not being paid on the student's behalf, and does not constitute cash support of the student. At any rate, support of any kind paid by a parent to a dependent student isn't reportable by the student. </p>

<p><a href="44">quote</a>j. Money received. Enter the amount of any cash support you received from a friend or relative (other than your parents, if you are a dependent student). Cash support includes payments made on your behalf. For instance, if your aunt pays your rent or utility bill that you would otherwise be obligated to pay yourself, you must report those payments here.

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<p>I hope that is the case! Perhaps Kelsmom will weigh in.</p>

<p>I can't imagine that not being the case...not only would it contradict FAFSA instructions, but can you imagine the impact on the student's EFC considering student's only have a $6K income protection allowance and then 50% of their income hits their EFC?! That wouldn't make sense at all...</p>

<p>If it's the separated H providing money to the household - either directly (spousal support) or indirectly (paying the mortgage)...how is that reported?</p>

<p>It wouldn't seem right that "mortgage paid by the separated H" not get reported somewhere...in some cases that could be $25k or so per year! </p>

<p>I realize that this mom is unemployed, but if she did have an income and the mortgage was being paid by the H, that sure would free up income for school.</p>

<p>Profile asks this question of parents but, as far as I can tell (and if someone can quote the section of the FAFSA instructions saying otherwise, I'd be very interested), gifts to parents are not reported on FAFSA. In this case, it's very possible that the mortgage and support payments are made under a support order and in that case, the spousal support might be deemed alimony (which is included in the AGI of the recipient) or child support which is reported as untaxed income.</p>

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For the purpose of financial aid, is it better if we file tax returns separately or jointly, or does it matter?

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<p>Back to the OP's question...for financial aid purposes...it does NOT matter at all how you file your taxes.</p>

<p>Believe it or not, if the other half is paying the mortgage, giving the mom money, etc, it is not reported. If it is given formally, like in an alimony situation, it gets reported on the tax return & thus in the AGI. If any money is paid by this person for any children in the home, it is treated like child support (although it would be difficult to prove that it was given specifically for the child in the absence of any formal agreement). If any money is paid by the other half for the student ... for birthday gifts, tuition, etc ... then it IS reported, and on the student side. Since this person is under no obligation from the federal aid point of view to give the kid anything, what is given is icing on the cake, and therefore fair game for reporting as gifts or other money received.</p>

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If any money is paid by the other half for the student ... for birthday gifts, tuition, etc ... then it IS reported, and on the student side. Since this person is under no obligation from the federal aid point of view to give the kid anything, what is given is icing on the cake, and therefore fair game for reporting as gifts or other money received.

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<p>I'm guessing this is because of the FAFSA definition of "parent". I'm also guessing that 100% of students reading the 44.j. instruction would determine that it means they don't have to report support from those beings that they regard as their parents, whether FAFSA defines them as such or not! They really need to insert a reminder or the word "custodial" or something in there...</p>

<p>Actually, they need to rewrite the entire parent section so that kids (and parents) can actually understand what is being asked. It is really confusing. I have seen so many mistakes that absolutely were legitimate mistakes ... the instructions about "parent" are just too darn confusing.</p>

<p>One thing the OP might want to think about is how the financial structure will change in the upcoming years. If child and/or spousal support will be a happening in the future it could change the financial aid situation for the upcoming college years.</p>