Step-parent's Tax Information on FAFSA

Apparently I have a complicated living situation because I can’t seem to get an answer for my question. So, my biological parents were never married but both of them are on my birth certificate. However, I live with my mother full-time, she has legal custody of me, and provides over 50% of my finances. She is married to my step-father who does not have custody over me. Even though he does not have custody or legal guardianship, I live with him and he provides over 50% of my income. I have a few questions because I keep getting an error message on my FAFSA saying the marital information and tax information does not match.

  1. What do I put as my mother’s marital status? While she is married to my step-father, she was never married to my biological father. The marital status is between the biological parent’s but I have a Federal Aid representative tell me to put “Married or Re-Married” even though my biological parents were never married. I think it should be never married because it refers to the biological parents’ marital status, but I don’t know.
  2. Do I provide my step-father’s tax information? Obviously I think that I should, but when I change the marital status of my parents to “Never Married” since my biological parents were never married, there is nowhere to put my step-father’s tax information.
  3. Where do I provide my step-father’s tax information? I read on a different website that I should put all of his income under non-taxed income, but I want to verify before I put something weird on my FAFSA.

I honestly don’t know if my FAFSA information is being sent to school’s since even though the application is getting processed successfully it still shows an error message every time I submit it with the “Married or Re-Married” marital status. I have checked the tax information multiple times-I am on my 7th time turning the FAFSA in-and it is still saying that the marital information does not match the tax information provided. Please help~~~I am getting very frustrated as I have gotten different answers from FAFSA representatives and cannot find anything online.

  1. She is married. It’s not asking if she is married to your biological father, just whether she is married.
  2. Yes, you include your stepfather’s income. Was your mom married to your stepfather in 2019? If so, she should have filed as married filing jointly (in which case your stepfather’s income is on her 1040 & is reported in the parent income you report on the FAFSA) or married filing separately (in which case you have to add the information from both of their tax returns together to properly report their information). If she didn’t get married until after 2019, you have to add the information from both of their tax returns together. If you reported her date of marriage as 2020 or 2021, indicating that she filed head of household shouldn’t cause an error ... but if the date of marriage is 2019 or prior, indicating that she filed as head of household might cause an error.

Double check your information based on the above. Once everything seems correct, both you & your mom will need to sign the FAFSA with your FSA ID’s in order for it to be accepted.

Your mothers marital status is “married” because she IS married. The marital status does not refer to your biological parents. It refers to the parent who is your custodial parent…your mother. She is married.

Your mother is your custodial parent because you live with her greater than 50% of the time. That being the case, you include your mother AND your stepfather’s financials on the FAFSA form.

So…indicate “married” as the marital status. You will list the incomes from 2019 for both your mom and step dad on the FAFSA…and their assets as of the day you file the FAFSA.

If your step dad had taxed income, you list it as income…not untaxed income.

Was your mom married in 2019 to your step dad? If not, did you use the IRS data retrieval tool? What was your mother’s tax filing status in 2019?

You are only completing FAFSA using information having to do with your mother and step-father. Based on what you have reported, as of today your mother’s status is married, so select “Married or remarried” when answering question 58.


FAFSA questions 79 through 85, and 86 or 87.