Tips for divorced families filling out FAFSA forms

Tips for divorced families filling out FAFSA forms

On Behalf of | Dec 5, 2019 | Divorce |

Some children in Pennsylvania recover quickly from their parents’ divorce. In fact, depending on the situation, children may even look forward to it. Then, there are others who may take some time to adjust. Even when children put this episode of their lives behind them, if they apply for financial aid for college, the divorce may once again surface.

Parents need to coordinate to make the process as smooth as possible. It typically only becomes a challenge for college hopefuls when parents do not cooperate. Forbes notes that the complication stems from the fact that children are technically a part of two households when parents divorce. This can make it a little less straightforward to calculate income.

A good rule of thumb is that when the custodial parent makes less money, the student may qualify for more student aid. There are instances where one divorced parent remarried. This may lead to a stepparent’s income getting lumped in with that remarried parent’s income, thereby increasing that parent’s income for financial aid qualification purposes.

In 50/50 custodial arrangements, or where there is no legal determination, the primary custodial parent may come down to who offers the most financial support. This gives parents some level of control over whose income should get used for financial aid qualification, which may actually work out better for the student.

NerdWallet adds that when filling out the FAFSA, the custodial parent is typically the one the child spent the most time with in the past 12 months. Armed with this information, parents may make arrangements for the college-student-to-be to reside more often with the parent whose income levels might allow the student to qualify for the most financial aid.

Yes, there are a few additional considerations when filling out FAFSA as a divorced family. However, those additional considerations often give students more options to qualify for better assistance than they might otherwise receive, especially when at least one parent did not remarry and/or has a lower income.


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