The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the standard form to submit family financial information to colleges and universities to qualify for grants and loans. It’s a key piece of the college applications portfolio. Unfortunately, the task of filling out the form gets a little trickier when parents are divorced. Here are a few FAFSA tips for divorced parents.
There’s a great infographic from the Department of Education that can help you to figure out which parent is supposed to be filling out the form. The key question is the parental living arrangement. Regardless of marital status, if the parents are living together, both will submit information on the form. If living apart, one parent will submit their information.
Which parent will it be? The simple answer is the parent that the child lives with most of the year. If the child splits time equally between parents, then it’s the parent that provides the most financial support.
This can get complicated, especially in cases where the primary support parent has remarried, or the child is the product of a common law marriage. The best source of information as to which parent needs to provide information is the financial aid officer at the college or university you are applying to.
Filling out the FAFSA is not a job to just hand over to your child and tell them to get to it. They need a lot of information from you, the parent, such as:
Not only is it better to fill out this complicated form as a family, it will save time and stress if you pull together all your financial documents before you try and fill out the FAFSA.
If you know that the custodial parent is the one who has to provide financial information, it would definitely help for the parent with the lowest income to have custody. Keep in mind that falsifying the FAFSA to indicate the child lives with a parent they don’t actually live with in real life is fraud and you will be in trouble.
It is perfectly acceptable to include a college support plan in your divorce agreement. Deciding early on how much of the college financial burden each parent is responsible for and which expenses will be covered goes a long way towards making sure that one parent doesn’t end up having to cover a child’s total collegiate education costs.
Remember, just like going to court, on the FAFSA, you answer the questions you are asked and don’t share any other information. Oversharing information may lead to you paying more down the road. Be honest. Don’t try to hide income and consult an expert if you are having issues with the form.
If you have a child that is college age, and you need help planning out a strategy as part of your divorce agreement, Family Matters Law Group can help. We’ve fought for clients all over Henry, Clayton, and Fayette counties, as well as the Atlanta metro area. Contact us today and let us see how we can assist you in making your family’s college dreams come true.